Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission in case of Thomas B. and Patti Anne Reed v. Fairview Water Company, No. C-79050903.
Blake C. Marles, Butz, Hudders & Tallman, for petitioner.
John F. Povilaitis, Assistant Counsel, with him Shirley Rae Don, Deputy Chief Counsel, and Joseph J. Malatesta, Jr. and George M. Kaski, Chief Counsels, for respondent.
Judges MacPhail, Williams, Jr. and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino.
This is an appeal from an order of the respondent Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (Commission) sustaining the complaint of two customers of a private water utility and directing the utility to provide water service and to capitalize at its own expense, with exceptions described below, an installed service line. We affirm.
A formal complaint was filed by two residents of the Greater Mount Pocono area against petitioner (Company). The problem raised in the complaint was the alleged refusal of the Company to give the residents water service. The Commission Trial Staff filed its Notice of Intention to Participate in the matter and contended that the Company should be assessed civil penalties pursuant to Section 3301 of the Public Utility Code (Code), 66 Pa. C.S. § 3301, for the Company's conduct in response to the residents' original request for service and for the Company's stance on the question of customer contributions. By its answer to the complaint, the Company raised the question of its right to require customer contribution for the extension of water service to the residents; in the proceedings below the Company further raised the issue of the Commission's power to mandate the location of service lines to customers.
In autumn 1978 and winter 1979 the residents had difficulty securing water service from the Company. Much of the problem stemmed from disagreements
over the proper location of the service line and on customer contribution. A staff engineer in the Commission's Bureau of Consumer Services tried to informally resolve the residents' service problem. The staff engineer recommended that service be provided through the side of the residence. The Company asserted that the service line should go to the front of the residence (which the Company president testified would require an extension of the existing main).
In late March 1979 the staff engineer informed the Company that a main extension was not necessary to service the residents and that the Company could not charge the residents for lateral extensions. The residents' formal complaint was filed on May 8, 1979. By the time hearings in the case commenced in June 1979, the Company's service line from its main to the side curb of the residents' property had been installed,*fn1 as had the residents' portion of the service line from the curb to their home. The amount of contribution the Company could demand from the residents for the installation of the Company's service line to the curb remained as a matter of dispute.*fn2
The Initial Decision of the Administrative Law Judge F. Ross Crumlish was entered July 30, 1979. The Initial Decision did not order any civil penalties but did prohibit the Company from requiring contributions from the residents for any facilities it installed, except for the meter setter, meter box, meter box lid and labor associated with the installation of those three items. Exceptions to the Initial Decision were filed by the Company and by ...