Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
|Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission|
|Office website:||Official Link|
|Length of term:||5 years|
|Authority:||Pennsylvania Constitution, Article IV, Section 1|
|Selection Method:||Appointed by Governor|
|Other Pennsylvania Executive Offices|
|Governor • Lieutenant Governor • Secretary of State • Attorney General • Treasurer • Auditor • Superintendent of Education • Agriculture Commissioner • Insurance Commissioner • Natural Resources Commissioner • Labor Commissioner • Public Service Commission|
All officers, whose selection is not provided for in this Constitution, shall be elected or appointed as may be directed by law.
There are no specific qualifications to serve on the Public Utility Commission.
Public Utility Commissioners are not elected in Pennsylvania. The Governor nominates candidates for approval by the state senate, and the senate confirms the nominations by a two-thirds majority before the candidates assume office. Commissioners serve staggered, five-year terms.
Article IV, Section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution grants the governor the power to appoint officers to fill vacancies. In the event of a vacancy in the office, the governor nominates a successor. This nomination must be made to the commonwealth senate within 90 days of the vacancy. The senate must then take action (confirming or not confirming the nomination) within 25 legislative days.
The Public Utility Commission is responsible for regulating Pennsylvania's public utility industries and protecting consumers. The commission works to ensure safe and reliable services, educate consumers about their utility options, and promote new technologies and markets.
Specifically, the commission:
- regulates approximately 6,000 electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water/wastewater, and transportation utilities
- regulates electric, gas, and water distribution rates
- regulates motor carries
- inspects more than 40,000 miles of natural gas pipelines
- inspects motor vehicles and railroad facilities
- works to make high-speed Internet service more readily available
The Public Utility Commission has thirteen offices and bureaus that the various handle administrative, legal, legislative, regulatory, and financial duties of the commission.
Director of Operations' Office
The Director of Operations' Office is the central office in the department. The office coordinates the activities of all the other bureaus, and serves as a conduit for information between the commissioners and bureau/office directors.
Bureau of Audits
The Bureau of Audits conducts audits and investigations of Pennsylvania's fixed utilities. The bureau conducts three types of audits of approximately 32 fixed utilities every five to eight years, and of smaller utilities on an as-needed basis.
- Adjustment clause audits -- State law mandates annual adjustment clause audits for certain utilities. These audits verify the costs incurred by utility companies and are used to determine how fairly the companies are charging their customers.
- Financial audits -- Financial audits include original cost audits, original cost studies, and continuing property records audits.
- Management audits -- These audits evaluate a utility company's management structure. They consider at the sustainability of both short- and long-term operations plans and the overall organizational structure. Separate from these management audits, the bureau conducts management efficiency investigations.
Bureau of Consumer Services
The Bureau of Consumer Services handles consumer complaints and provides information to consumers. The bureau also monitors utility company compliance with regulations. There are two divisions within the bureau: customer assistance and complaints; and policy.
The Law Bureau provides comprehensive legal support to the commissioners, commission staff, and directors of all other bureaus. Their purview includes advising on regulatory matters and representing the commission in all jurisdiction actions before the state and federal courts, including appellate litigation.
The Secretary's Bureau provides a certifying signature for all official actions of the commission. The bureau handles certain administrative functions for the commission and manages all public meeting agendas.
Bureau of Transportation and Safety
The Bureau of Transportation and Safety regulates railroad, gas, and motor carrier safety. There are three divisions within the office:
- Motor carrier services and enforcement -- The division inspects and audits companies that operating rucks, buses, taxis, and limousines within Pennsylvania to ensure compliance with the codes and regulations of the commission.
- Rail safety -- The division monitors rail crossing and rail bridge safety and compliance with the Federal Railroad Administrations standards.
- Gas safety -- The gas safety division manages the operation, maintenance, and damage prevention for transmission lines, main lines, service lines, regulator stations, compressor stations and gas meter installations.
Bureau of Administrative Services
The Bureau of Administrative Services provides administrative support to the commissioners and has several functions: fiscal, office services, budget, assessments, contracts, travel, management information systems, mail distribution, messenger service, stock room, printing and duplication, and automobile services.
Office of Administrative Law Judge
The Office of Administrative Law Judge offers conflict resolution from independent judges. The commission's policy is to encourage mediation in order to avoid litigation with a formal hearing process.
Bureau of Conservation Economics & Energy Planning
The Bureau of Conservation Economics & Energy Planning "conducts studies and research and performs policy and planning functions" for energy, water, and telecommunications utilities.
Bureau of Fixed Utility Services
The Bureau of Fixed Utility Services advises the commission on rates, tariffs, and regulatory issues. It also reviews utility/municipal contracts, earning reports, county 911 plans, and service quality reports.
Legislative Affairs Office
The Legislative Affairs Office serves as a liaison between the commission and the [Pennsylvania General Assembly], Governor's office, U.S. Congress, and the National Association of Regulatory Review Commission.
Office of Special Assistants
The Office of Special Assistants provides assistance to all five of the commissioners. Staff members are responsible for preparing paperwork, reviewing conflict resolution decisions from administrative law judges, and reviewing petitions.
Office of Trial Staff
The Office of Trial Staff legally represents the commission on "all matters in the public interest except those involving transportation, safety, eminent domain, siting, service issues having no impact on rates, and ability to pay."
- See also: Compensation of state executive officers
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
400 North Street
Harrisburg, PA 17120
P.O. Box 3265
Harrisburg, PA 17105-3265
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Public Utility History, "A history of the Pennsylvania public utility commission (Pages 2-3)," Retrieved June 15, 2011
- ↑ Pennsylvania State Legislature, "Executive branch," June 1, 2011
- ↑ Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission website, Retrieved June 15, 2011
- ↑ Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission "Bureau of conservation, economics, and energy planning," Retrieved June 15, 2011
- ↑ Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission "Office of trial staff," Retrieved June 15, 2011
- ↑ The Council of State Governments Book of the States, Chapter 4, Table 4.11, Retrieved June 14, 2011