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SEWICKLEY WATER WORKS v. PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION (10/01/79)

decided: October 1, 1979.

SEWICKLEY WATER WORKS, PETITIONER
v.
PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission in case of Investigation into the Sewickley Water Works to Ascertain whether its operation is within the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, Investigation Docket, No. 189.

COUNSEL

William I. Jack, Dennis L. Veraldi, and Ruffin, Hazlett, Perry & Lonergan, for petitioner.

Michael H. Kline, Assistant Counsel, with him Shirley Rae Don, Assistant Counsel, and Kathleen Herzog Larkin, Chief Counsel, for respondent.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers, Blatt and MacPhail. Judges DiSalle and Craig did not participate. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr. Judge Mencer dissents.

Author: Crumlish

[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 279]

The Public Utility Commission (PUC) determined that the Sewickley Water Works is a municipal corporation rendering extraterritorial service and is thereby subject to the PUC's jurisdiction. The Water Works challenges the PUC's conclusion that it is an agent that is owned and maintained by the Borough of Sewickley whose geographic boundaries are co-extensive with the Borough's.

The Water Works was created by a special act of the General Assembly, Act of February 21, 1873, P.L. 147 (Water Works Act) for the purpose of "erecting and maintaining waterworks to supply with water the inhabitants of the Borough of Sewickley and such

[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 280]

    portions of the adjoining townships as the Commissioners [to be appointed thereafter by the Borough Council] may include."

The Water Works Act authorizes the appointed Commissioners to lease or purchase property and rights-of-way necessary for the operation of the Water Works provided that all title, rights and privileges thereto vest in the Borough in its corporate capacity. The Water Works Act further empowers the Borough Council to issue bonds in its own name to defray expenses in the maintenance of the Water Works and to guarantee any indebtedness or revenue deficiency. The appointed Commissioners are required to prepare annual reports for the Borough Council and to deposit all water revenues in the Borough Treasury. In the event the Water Works suffers from insufficient revenue from water rents, the Borough Council is authorized to levy and collect a special tax.

The Water Works argues that it is a "municipal corporation," as defined by the Public Utility Code,*fn1 that is separate and distinct from the Borough and that its geographic boundaries, as set forth in its creating act embrace the adjoining townships it services.

In interpreting the Water Works Act to determine whether or not the General ...


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