Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission in the case of Gary Burleson and Doris Burleson v. West Penn Power Company, No. F-08822411, 1979.
Larry B. Selkowitz, Widoff, Reager, Selkowitz and Adler, P.C., for petitioners.
Larry Gesoff, Assistant Counsel, with him Robert P. Meehan, Assistant Counsel, Shirley Rae Don, Deputy Chief Counsel, and Joseph J. Malatesta, Jr., Chief Counsel, for respondent.
Edward S. Stiteler, for intervenor.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Blatt and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail. Judge Mencer did not participate in the decision in this case.
[ 66 Pa. Commw. Page 283]
Gary and Doris Burleson (Petitioners) have appealed to this Court from a decision of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) dismissing Petitioners' complaint that West Penn Power Co. (West Penn) had overcharged for electric service rendered between January, 1978 to June, 1979.*fn1
The evidence presented at the hearing was, in general, uncontradicted. Petitioners live in a mobile home located in Smithfield. Petitioners first moved into the
[ 66 Pa. Commw. Page 284]
home in August of 1976. Petitioners testified that since January of 1978 until June of 1979 they experienced problems with various electrical appliances.*fn2 During this period of time electrical usage was 18% to 50% greater than was used afterwards. There was no evidence of any change in Petitioners' pattern of usage, such as a change in family size or an increased effort at conservation; in fact, Petitioners testified that an air conditioner and swimming pool pump were added after June of 1979.
Petitioners also presented the testimony of an expert witness, Dr. Charles Claar. After examining Petitioners' usage patterns, Dr. Claar opined that the usage during the period of time in question was abnormally higher than the expected usage for this size family. When questioned as to the possible causes for this difference in recorded usage, Dr. Claar stated:
Looking at all the alternatives or possibilities, the most likely possibility is that the bad cable*fn3 which was, in all probability, a ground fault, there could have been a leakage of current to ground through the faulty cable, which could cause the meter to register additional KWH [kilowatthours] and, subsequently, the fault could have cleared itself, which would explain why they are not as high now as they were previously.
On redirect examination, however, Dr. Claar ascribed a very low possibility to a ground fault being the cause of the ...