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MALCOLM P. AND MARJORIE SIMS CROOKS v. PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION (04/14/71)

decided: April 14, 1971.

MALCOLM P. AND MARJORIE SIMS CROOKS
v.
PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION, APPELLEE, AND PHILADELPHIA ELECTRIC COMPANY, INTERVENING APPELLEE



Direct appeal from the order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, Docket No. 95154, dismissing appellant's petition to reopen proceedings and rescind a prior order of the Commission. Appellees moved to quash the appeal.

COUNSEL

Robert J. Sugarman, with him Bernard A. Ryan, Jr., and Dechert, Price & Rhoades, for appellant.

Anthony L. Marino, Assistant Counsel, with him Edward Munce, Acting Counsel, for Commission, appellee.

Leonard Barrack, with him Harold E. Kohn, for intervening appellee.

President Judge Bowman, and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Manderino, Mencer, and Rogers. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson.

Author: Wilkinson

[ 1 Pa. Commw. Page 584]

This case comes before this Court by way of appeal from an order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission refusing to reopen hearings on Commission order A95154. The precise procedural question is raised by appellee's motion to quash the appeal. The issue which the Court must decide is whether an appeal lies from the Commission's refusal to reopen a matter under Section 1007 of the Public Utility Law, Act of May 28, 1937, P.L. 1053, Art. X, ยง 1007, 66 P.S. 1397. We hold that the appeal does lie.

Philadelphia Electric Company, on March 3, 1969, filed application to obtain a certificate of convenience and necessity to acquire right of way over a portion of land owned by Malcolm and Marjorie Sims Crooks in Solebury Township, Bucks County. On May 4, 1970, the Commission issued its order granting the certificate for the purpose of constructing an electric power transmission line. This was based, inter alia, on testimony of Philadelphia Electric Company that "it is not practicable to route the proposed line to avoid the Crooks' property".

A letter dated June 30, 1970, from Walter Hickel, Secretary of the Interior, to George Bloom, Chairman of the Commission, indicated that the United States government was interested in preserving Honey Hollow Watershed National Historic Landmark. The Crooks' property is located in the watershed. In response to Secretary Hickel's letter, a vice- president of the Philadelphia Electric Company, H. T. Bryans, in correspondence dated July 8, 1970, said that the company was acquiring an alternate route which would avoid crossing the watershed. This was diametrically opposite to what the same company's witness had testified at the hearing.

As a result of Bryan's letter, the Crooks filed a petition under Section 1007 of the Public Utility Law to

[ 1 Pa. Commw. Page 585]

    the Commission on July 16, 1970, to reopen the proceedings docketed at A95154 and rescind the certificate. Their petition was dismissed on August 24, 1970, although no notification was sent to the Crooks' counsel until September 16, 1970. The Commission based its dismissal on lack of timeliness. On October 14, 1970, the Crooks appealed the August 24 order to dismiss to this Court.

Section 1101 of the Public Utility Law reads as follows: "(a) Within thirty days after the service of any order by the commission, unless an application for a rehearing may be pending, and then within thirty days after the service of the order refusing such application, or the service of an order modifying, amending, rescinding, or affirming the original order, any party to the proceedings affected thereby may appeal ...


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