The PUC's History - Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission

The PUC's History - Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission

The PUC TodayThe Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances theneeds of consumers and utilities to ensure safe and reliable utilityservice at reasonable rates; protect the public interest; educateconsumers to make independent and informed utility choices;further economic development; and foster new technologies andcompetitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.The roles and responsibilities of the Pennsylvania PublicUtility Commission have continued to evolve over the yearsas legislators amended the Public Utility Code, and as theutility marketplace and technology evolved. The Commissionnow regulates approximately 6,000 electric, natural gas,telecommunications, water/wastewater and transportation utilities.

The PUC regulates electric distribution rates,ensures service reliability and fosters thedevelopment of competitive electricity markets.The PUC also participates in matters that impactthe wholesale energy market.• Working to ensure safety, the PUC inspects thestate’s more than 40,000 miles of natural gaspipelines, regulates natural gas distributioncompany rates and service, investigates gascost rates, and encourages the development ofcompetitive supply markets.• In promoting a competitive telecommunicationsmarket, the PUC works to ensure reasonablelocal rates and service quality, accelerate thedeployment of high-speed Internet service, andmake programs available so that no consumer isleft without access to local telephone service.• The PUC regulates motor carriers that transportproperty, passengers and household goods, andconducts motor vehicle, and railroad facility andtrack inspections.• The PUC regulates the rates and service ofinvestor-owned water and wastewater companies,along with some municipal systems that servecustomers outside their boundaries. Since viablewater systems are essential to strong Pennsylvaniacommunities, rates must be set to reflect prudentlyincurred costs of providing service.

The 2007 Public Utility Commission: (front row left toright) Chairman Wendell F. Holland, Commissioner KimPizzingrilli, Vice Chairman James H. Cawley and (backrow) Commissioner Tyrone J. Christy.

• In 1999, the PUC created the Bureau ofAdministrative Services to provide advisory supportfor administrative matters in the operation of thePUC.• In 1999, the Natural Gas Choice and CompetitionAct became law. As part of its implementation,the Commission continues to work with the GeneralAssembly to find ways to foster natural gas andelectric supply competition in Pennsylvania.• The PUC joined other state and federal agenciesin preparing for “Y2K,” and the computer’s abilityto make the calendar transitionfrom Dec. 20, 1999, to Jan.1, 2000. This led to greaterinteraction between theCommission and the PennsylvaniaEmergency Management Agency(PEMA) during emergenciesand power outages. This interaction benefited theCommonwealth in the aftermath of the terroristattacks on Sept. 11, 2001, when the PUC workedwith PEMA to determine utility vulnerabilities. Thestate House of Representatives issued Resolution361 tasking the PUC and PEMA with reviewing,analyzing, and evaluating utility infrastructuresecurity and risk-mitigation policies.• In 2000, the PUC moved its offices from theCapitol Complex’s North Office Building to thenew CommonwealthKeystone Building. TheCommissioners beganholding Public Meetingsin a new Hearing Room1 in the new building.

• In 2002, in the wake of the Enron collapse, the PUCreviewed current corporate governance controlsand auditing practices of the 27 major Pennsylvaniautilities.• During late 2004, the General Assemblypassed three major newcomprehensive laws bringingsignificant changes and challenges toPUC. The acts represented sweepingchanges to the way energy and waterutilities terminate consumers (Act 201 of2004); the way electric utilities and theirconsumers embrace the use of alternativeenergy sources for generation (Act 213 of2004); and the way telephone companiesare regulated and deploy high-speed Internetservices across Pennsylvania, through a new Chapter30 (Act 183 of 2004).• In 2007, the General Assembly again reviewedthe Commission, through a performance audit bythe Legislative Budget and Finance Committee,which found, among other things, that the PUChas made “significant regulatory changes” tomaintain electric reliability; has ensured at least58 percent of Pennsylvania telephone accesslines were broadband capable as of 2004,substantially ahead of the aggregate goal of 45percent to be compliant with Chapter 30; has made“good progress” in implementing the AlternativeEnergy Portfolio Standards Act; and is successfullypartnering with the State Police to handle the MotorCarrier Safety Enforcement Program.

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