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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. LAUREL PIPE LINE COMPANY (03/21/77)

decided: March 21, 1977.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION
v.
LAUREL PIPE LINE COMPANY, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission in case of Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission v. Laurel Pipe Line Company, Docket No. 184.

COUNSEL

Glenn E. Davis, for appellant.

Edward Munce, Assistant Counsel, with him Daniel F. Joella, Assistant Counsel, and Edward J. Morris, Counsel, for appellee.

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

Author: Kramer

[ 29 Pa. Commw. Page 352]

This is an appeal filed by the Laurel Pipe Line Company (Laurel) from an adjudication of the Pennsylvania

[ 29 Pa. Commw. Page 353]

Public Utility Commission (PUC), dated August 22, 1975. The appeal is the result of the dismissal of the exceptions filed by Laurel to the Order Nisi of the PUC.

The PUC concluded that Laurel's rates, for pipe-line deliveries, existing prior to the time of this filing, were and are sufficient to provide a fair return on the fair value of Laurel's property. Laurel raises several interesting questions on the procedure used by the PUC, and the methods of accounting used by the PUC staff to arrive at its conclusions.

This Court has examined the voluminous record and extensive briefs of the parties, and we conclude that we are unable to rule upon the merits of this appeal. Because of counsel's use of inappropriate terminology, it was difficult for the Court to sort out the relevant evidence from the irrelevant statements and exhibits offered by witnesses and counsel. For instance, Laurel asserts in its briefs that it is entitled to a rate increase because of the economy of the Commonwealth. This is a novel approach. It also is not the law. Counsel also unfortunately used the term "rate base" when speaking of Laurel's expenses. Expenses are not part of the rate base; they are a part of the cost of service.

There are sufficient statistics in the record to allow an experienced person to arrive at a proper adjudication. Appellate court judges, however, are not trial judges in public utility rate cases. Our task is to determine whether the findings and conclusions of the PUC are supported in the record. Our task is not to rewrite the PUC's adjudication.

We therefore will remand this case to the PUC with a suggestion that counsel for both parties, and the person or persons writing the final adjudication, read, at the very minimum, the following cases of this ...


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