Commission Sets Precedent to Extend Uber’s and Lyft’s Authority to Operate in Pennsylvania

            On June 30, 2016, at its most recent public meeting, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (“Commission”) set a precedent important to Pennsylvania Uber (operating in Pennsylvania under its subsidiary Raiser-PA) and Lyft users alike by granting Yellow Cab Company of Pittsburgh, Inc. (“Yellow Cab”), a temporary extension of one year of operating authority to provide Transportation Network Service (“TNC”) in Pennsylvania.[1] Although Yellow Cab may no longer be a household name like Uber and Lyft, the service that it provides is identical. In fact, Yellow Cab was the first Transportation Network Service (“TNC”) or app-based transportation provider that was granted temporary authority to operate in Pennsylvania.[2] But under the Commission’s regulations, TNC authority is considered “experimental” and therefore is temporary and only valid for two years.[3] Yellow Cab was granted authority to operate beginning in July 2014 and without the Commission’s June 30th Order, it would have been required to cease operating on July 1, 2016.

...
Continue reading
726 Hits

IRRC Shoots Down AEPS Regulations a Second Time

When Pennsylvania’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission (“IRRC”) voted unanimously at its June 30, 2016 meeting to disapprove for a second time the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s (“PUC”) recent efforts to modify its regulations implementing the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards(“AEPS”) Act,[1] it was aware that its action would at most place a speed bump in the PUC’s path, but it disapproved the regulations anyway

...
Continue reading
934 Hits

Uber Week for Uber in PA - Commonwealth Court Affirms PUC’s Authorization of Raiser’s Service (an Uber Subsidiary) and PUC Decreases Recommended $49 Mil Civil Penalty to $11 Mil

            In an April 19, 2016 Opinion, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court[1] affirmed the Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) grant of a certificate of public convenience (CPC) for experimental authority to operate as a common carrier to Raiser-PA, LLC (Raiser) in Pennsylvania, excluding Philadelphia.[2]  Raiser is a subsidiary of Uber Technologies, Inc. (Uber), which licenses the technology to Raiser that allows users to request a ride via smartphone app. 

...
Continue reading
858 Hits

PUC Streamlines Gas Cost Rate Filings for Small Gas Companies

            The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) recently issued a final rule making order concerning recovery of fuel costs by gas utilities at Docket No. L-2013-2346923.  The full order can be found here:  http://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol46/46-4/110.html  The Order is designed to simplify and streamline information and procedures for small gas utilities (gross intrastate operating revenues of $40 million or less) when submitting gas cost rate (GCR) filings with the PUC. 

...
Continue reading
773 Hits

Columbia seeks yet another rate increase

Almost one year to the day from its 2014 rate increase filing, Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania is back before the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission seeking an additional $46 million in revenue.

...
Continue reading
13275 Hits

“Tip Letter” and Records Related to Investigation Leading to PUC-Approved Settlement Not Subject to Disclosure

The PUC is not required to disclose a utility employee’s “tip letter” or other records relating to an investigation of the utility’s practices where the documents are not considered by the Commissioners when approving the resulting settlement. 

...
Continue reading
5393 Hits

Victory For Sunoco Pipeline in Second Round Before PUC

Public Utility Commission (PUC) Commissioners gave Sunoco Pipeline a fighting chance at exemption from local zoning for outbuildings housing utility structures on the Mariner East Pipeline, finding prima facie evidence that Sunoco is a public utility and overruling the ALJs’ July 23, 2014 Initial Decision granting preliminary objections finding to the contrary. 

...
Continue reading
5742 Hits

NIMBYs and Environmental Groups Win First Round Before PUC Against Sunoco Pipeline

Sunoco’s proposed Mariner East pipeline that would transport natural gas liquids (NGLs) from Pennsylvania’s rich Marcellus Shale production in Western Pennsylvania to processing plants in southeastern Pennsylvania, received a blow from Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission ALJs on July 23, 2014.

...
Continue reading
8504 Hits

PUC Gives Uber a Chance

On Thursday, July 24, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission decided on a way forward that will allow App-based transportation networking services Uber and Lyft to continue operating in Pittsburgh while the Commission decides whether and how to grant them permanent authority to operate. The Commission granted Emergency Temporary Authority (“ETA”) for the entities to operate experimental transportation networks in Allegheny County and simultaneously granted Commission prosecutorial staff petitions ordering the entities to cease and desist operations.  The net effect is that the Commission has determined on a preliminary basis that Uber and Lyft have been operating illegally (i.e., before their applications to provide transportation service were granted), but has also allowed them to continue operating (in compliance with strict ETA requirements) while their pending applications are being considered by PUC ALJs. Moreover, during their operation under ETA, the Commission directed that the entities maintain insurance higher than the minimum required by the relevant regulations and imposed eligibility restrictions on vehicles that offer transportation service.

...
Continue reading
8350 Hits

PUC Divested Of Remaining Marcellus Zoning Duties

In Robinson Township v. Commonwealth, 83 A.3d 901(Pa. 2013) the Pennsylvania Supreme Court invalidated key provisions of Act 13, the statute that removed from local zoning control the power to regulate oil and gas operations through restrictions on the placement and operation of  oil and gas facilities.  The Court remanded to the Commonwealth Court to consider whether other provisions of Act 13, including provisions that give the PUC power to review local zoning ordinances and withhold impact fees, remain viable.

...
Continue reading
7698 Hits

Kevin J. McKeon awarded the prestigious James S. Bowman Award.

b2ap3_thumbnail_photo_group2.jpgOn May 15, 2014, during the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s annual meeting, the PBA’s Administrative Law Section presented the James S. Bowman Award to Kevin J. McKeon of Hawke McKeon & Sniscak, LLP.  The award honors a lawyer who is making a significant impact on the practice of administrative law and who is demonstrating leadership in mentoring administrative law practitioners.  McKeon regularly represents clients before the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and also serves as lead counsel on significant cases before Pennsylvania’s appellate courts and the federal circuit courts of appeal. He serves on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Appellate Court Procedural Rules Committee, is a co-author of Pennsylvania Appellate Practice, and is a frequent lecturer on topics in administrative law and appellate procedure.   The award is named for the late Honorable James S. Bowman, the first President Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania,   whose comprehensive knowledge of administrative law, government law and appellate procedure was widely recognized and respected.

Continue reading
5466 Hits

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Considers Comments Submitted in Response to its Proposed Rulemaking Order to Revise Evidentiary Criteria for Household Goods in Use Carrier Applicants

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (“Commission”), which regulates moving companies, is reviewing comments to proposed rules that would make it easier for movers to obtain authority to commence operations in Pennsylvania.  In its September 12, 2013 Proposed Rulemaking, the Commission recommended revisions to the evidentiary criteria applicable to moving company applicants.  As reported in an earlier blog post on this site, the revisions recommended by the Commission would significantly ease entry barriers for new applicants, thereby encouraging more entrants and creating increased competition within Pennsylvania.

...
Continue reading
8525 Hits

PUC To Consider Revised Labeling Requirements for Electricity Suppliers

The Public Utility Commission (“PUC”) recently issued a Tentative Order in the matter of: The Use of Fixed Price Labels for Products With a Pass-Through Clause, Docket No. M-2013-2362961 (Tentative Order entered May 23, 2013), in which it requested interested parties to comment on what it views as an emerging problem: certain Electric Generation Suppliers (“EGS”) offering products labeled as “fixed price” when the products clearly are “variable price” products.  Comments were filed June 24 and a PUC decision is expected soon.

Continue reading
10551 Hits

Pennsylvania Transfers Jurisdiction Over Passenger Transportation Service in Allegheny County From Port Authority to PUC

The Pennsylvania Legislature recently amended the Second Class County Port Authority Act, 55 P.S. §§551-563.5, to, among other things, transfer jurisdiction over certain passenger transportation services occurring in Allegheny County from the Port Authority of Allegheny County (“Port Authority”) to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (“PUC”).  Prior to the amendments, jurisdiction over certain types of passenger service in Allegheny County, such as scheduled route, paratransit and airport transfer, resided with the Port Authority.

Continue reading
25031 Hits

First Energy Pays Price for Being First

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (“PUC”) caused quite a stir with its August 16, 2012 Order[1] that partially approved the jointly filed default service plans of the four First Energy electric utility affiliates serving in Pennsylvania.


[1] Joint Petition of Metropolitan Edison Company, Pennsylvania Electric Company, Pennsylvania Power Company and West Penn Power Company for Approval of their Default Service Programs, Docket Nos. P-2011-2273650 et al.  (Order entered August 16, 2012)(“First Energy Order”) .

Continue reading
17612 Hits

PUC Denies PPL Migration Rider

Providing a win to competitive suppliers, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (“PUC”) at its July 19 public meeting unanimously denied PPL’s request for a migration rider for default service customers.

Continue reading
22393 Hits

PA PUC Requested by Statutory Advocates and Two NGDCs to Examine The Practice of Natural Gas Flexible Pricing or Negotiated Discount Rates

Historically the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has permitted natural gas distribution companies (NGDCs) to use flexible pricing or “flex” contract rates to attract or retain large customers who have other energy alternatives.  The reasoning has been that “half a loaf is better than none,” and that such revenues, which cover and exceed marginal cost, contribute positively to overall cost of service.  The result is a benefit to the large customer, the utility, and all customers generally. Moreover, in terms of retaining a customer, the argument in favor of the status quo is that other ratepayers benefit as they do not bear the revenue burden of stranded investment or a smaller revenue pot over which to apply costs.  The NGDCs have generally been able to recover from other ratepayers the difference between the “flex” rate and what would have otherwise been charged under an ordinary general tariff rate.

Continue reading
23213 Hits

PUC Extends Fuel Cost Recovery Surcharge For Household Goods Carriers

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (“PUC”) recently extended the Fuel Cost Recovery Surcharge for household goods carriers for an additional year, until April 18, 2013, to enable carriers to continue to recover increased diesel fuel costs.

Continue reading
14606 Hits

Unfair Trade Practice Claims Involving Utility Billing: PUC has Primary but Not Exclusive Jurisdiction

Utility customers who challenge billing practices under the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL) must bring their challenge first to the Public Utility Commission (PUC), but may pursue their claim in civil court under the UTPCPL if the PUC concludes that the utility violated its tariff, the Commonwealth Court has ruled.

Continue reading
16122 Hits

PUC Begins Implementation of New Pipeline Safety Law

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission held a workshop on Wednesday, January 4, 2012, to present a summary of Pennsylvania’s new Gas and Hazardous Liquids Pipelines Act (“Act 127”) and to solicit comments and suggestions from industry members and other interested parties about details of the implementation of the Act’s provisions.  The PUC indicated that it will schedule another meeting between its staff and industry representatives in early-mid February to obtain further comments and input as it finalizes its plans for the implementation of the Act.

Continue reading
14173 Hits