Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission in case of Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association and Central Electric Cooperative v. West Penn Power Company, No. C-78100567.
Franklin L. Morgal, with him Drew J. Kovalk, for petitioner.
John F. Povilaitis, Assistant Counsel, with him Shirley Rae Don, Deputy Chief Counsel, and George M. Kashi, Chief Counsel, for respondent, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
William E. Mowatt, with him Miles R. Lynn, Jr., and Anthony C. Adonizio, for respondent, Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association.
Judges Blatt, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt. This decision was reached prior to the expiration of the term of office of Judge Wilkinson, Jr.
[ 57 Pa. Commw. Page 150]
The petitioner, West Penn Power Company (West Penn), appeals here from a determination by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (Commission) that West Penn extended electric service to a new customer outside of its certified territory and that it encroached upon the territory of the respondent, Central Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Central Electric).
Territory disputes between electric utilities in unincorporated areas are governed by the Retail Electric Supplier Unincorporated Area Certified Territory Act (Territory Act), Act of July 30, 1975, P.L. 113, 15 P.S. § 3277 et seq. Section 5(b) of the Territory Act, 15 P.S. § 3281(b) provides:
[A]ny new electric-consuming facility located in an unincorporated area which has not as yet been included in a map issued by the commission . . . shall be furnished retail electric service by the retail electric supplier which has an existing distribution line in closer proximity to such electric-consuming facility than is the nearest existing distribution line of any other retail electric supplier. (Emphasis added.)
The controversy here involves the Commission's determination that the nearest electric line of West Penn to the new customer is not an "existing distribution line", whereas the nearest electric line of Central Electric is such a line.
The nearest West Penn line is a 25,000-volt (25-KV) line in Madison Township, Clarion County, running in a northerly direction between two West
[ 57 Pa. Commw. Page 151]
Penn substations which are about 11,000 feet apart. At the northernmost substation, known as the Catfish Hollow substation, the current is transformed from 25 KV to a voltage of 2.3 KV, and it is then distributed to customers farther to the north where it is further reduced by transformers to the usable household current of 120/240 volts. In 1978, Thomas Bump, a resident of Madison Township, requested that West Penn extend electric service to his residence which is approximately 163 feet east of the mid-point of the 25-KV line between the two substations. West Penn extended service to Mr. Bump through the construction of a 2.3-KV "underbuilt" line which originates at the southernmost substation and runs along the existing poles which carry the 25-KV line.*fn1 The 2.3-KV underbuilt ...