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DUQUESNE LIGHT COMPANY v. PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION (07/29/77)

decided: July 29, 1977.

DUQUESNE LIGHT COMPANY, PETITIONER
v.
PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission in case of Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission v. Duquesne Light Company, Rate Investigation Docket No. 373.

COUNSEL

Charles E. Thomas, with him Jack F. Aschinger, Carroll F. Purdy, Charles E. Thomas, Jr., and Thomas & Thomas, for petitioner.

Kathleen Herzog Larkin, First Assistant Counsel, with her Michael Kerrgan, Assistant Counsel, and Barnett Satinsky, Chief Counsel, for respondent.

Albert D. Brandon, for Consumer Advocate.

Dennis S. Shilobod and Messer & Shilobod, for private complainants.

Marvin A. Fein, for City of Philadelphia.

Robert J. White and F. Bruce Abel, for Armco Steel.

Author: Per Curiam

[ 31 Pa. Commw. Page 123]

By order dated July 13, 1977, Judge Rogers refused to supersede an order of the Public Utility Commission entered July 6, 1977 reducing a so-called emergency rate increase earlier allowed Duquesne Light Company in the amount of 60 million dollars to the amount of 12 million dollars annually. Duquesne Light Company has now filed an application for reargument of its application for supersedeas. The application for reargument will be refused.

Duquesne's principal contention, and the only one meriting further discussion, is that the 60 million dollar annual rate increase allowed by the Commission on December 9, 1976 was a new tariff, not subject to change by the Commission. It relies principally on Section 308 of the Public Utility Law, 66 P.S. 1148. That section is as follows:

(a) Unless the commission otherwise orders, no public utility shall make any change in existing and duly established rate, except after sixty days' notice to the commission, which notice shall plainly state the changes proposed to be made in the rates then in force, and the time when the changed rates will go into effect. The public utility shall also give such notice of the proposed changes to other interested persons as the commission in its discretion may direct. All proposed changes shall be shown by filing new tariffs or supplements to existing tariff filed and in force at the time. The commission, for good cause, shown, may allow changes in rates, without requiring the sixty days' notice, under such conditions as it may prescribe. (Emphasis added.)

[ 31 Pa. Commw. Page 124]

(b) Whenever there is filed with the commission by any public utility any tariff stating a new rate, the commission may, either upon complaint or upon its own motion, upon reasonable notice, enter upon a hearing concerning the lawfulness of such rate, and pending such hearing and the decision thereon, the commission, upon filing with such tariff and delivering to the public utility affected thereby a statement in writing of its reasons therefor, may, at any time before it becomes effective, suspend the operation of such rate for a period not longer than six months from the time such rate would otherwise become effective, and an additional period of not more than three months pending such decision. The rate in force when the tariff stating the new rate was filed shall continue in force during the period of suspension, unless the commission shall establish a temporary rate as authorized in ...


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