Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Philadelphia Electric Company, Complaint Docket No. 20299-A.
Philip P. Kalodner, Special Assistant Attorney General, with him Gerry J. Elman, Deputy Attorney General, and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for appellant.
Charles F. Hoffman, Assistant Counsel, with him Susan M. Shanaman, and Edward J. Morris, Counsel, for appellee.
Ernest R. von Starck, with him Kenneth R. Myers, and, of counsel, Edward G. Bauer, Jr., and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, for intervening appellee.
Samuel B. Russell, with him W. Edwin Ogden, and Ryan, Russell & McConaghy, for amici curiae, Metropolitan Edison Company and Pennsylvania Electric Company.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Kramer.
[ 23 Pa. Commw. Page 568]
This is an appeal by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from a final order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, adopted March 25, 1975 and entered April 8, 1975, adjudicating all of the issues presented in a public utility rate case in which the Philadelphia Electric Company (PEC) sought increased rates for electric service rendered to its customers. The only issue raised by the Commonwealth in this appeal is whether the Commission erred by permitting PEC to collect increased revenues under the lowest of three rate schedule supplements to its tariff, which were filed simultaneously to become effective on the same date, while at the same time suspending the two higher rate schedules, pending final determination of the case. PEC has filed a motion to quash the Commonwealth's appeal, alleging that the Attorney General, in the name of the Commonwealth, may not file an appeal contesting an adjudication of the Commission. We will hold that the Commission did not commit an error of law and deny the motion to quash. To provide some understanding, it is necessary to set forth the following pertinent facts.
[ 23 Pa. Commw. Page 569]
PEC is a public utility subject to the provisions of the Public Utility Law (hereinafter Act).*fn1 On January 31, 1974, it filed simultaneously three separate and progressively higher rate schedules designated as supplements Nos. 30, 31 and 32 to its "Tariff Electric-Pa. PUC No. 24," each of which was designated to become effective April 1, 1974. Supplement No. 30 was designed to increase revenues 3.7 percent, or approximately $24,000,000, and by its terms was intended to supersede Supplement No. 29, which was in effect on the date of the rate filing. Supplement No. 31 was designed to increase revenues an additional 8.5 percent, or approximately $54,000,000, and was intended to supersede Supplement No. 30. Supplement No. 32 was designed to increase revenues an additional 8.8 percent, or approximately $58,000,000, and was intended to supersede Supplement No. 31. In other words, PEC intended to increase its revenues by a total of approximately $136,000,000.
On March 22, 1974, the Commonwealth filed a formal complaint, alleging that the requested increases were unjustified and unreasonable, and requesting that the proposed tariff revisions be suspended. The complaint alleged that the Commonwealth was a substantial consumer of PEC; and, in a formal answer, PEC admitted that the Commonwealth was a substantial consumer with an interest similar to that of other consumers.
On March 26, 1974, the Commission ordered an investigation of the proposed rate changes in all three of the Supplements filed by PEC. On the same date, by a separate order, the Commission suspended the effectiveness of Supplements Nos. 31 and 32 from April 1, 1974 to October 1, 1974 (six months); and by order of September 30, 1974, the Commission further suspended the two Supplements to January 1, 1975 (three months) in accordance
[ 23 Pa. Commw. Page 570]
with the provisions of Section 308 of the Act.*fn2 Because the commission did not suspend Supplement No. 30, the higher rates set forth therein became effective, by operation of law, on April 1, 1974, and PEC collected the additional revenues under ...