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PHILADELPHIA ELECTRIC COMPANY v. PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION (01/10/84)

decided: January 10, 1984.

PHILADELPHIA ELECTRIC 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, Walter Cohen, Consumer Advocate, United States Steel Corporation, Lukens Steel Company v. Philadelphia Electric Company -- Gas Division, No. R-811719, dated June 25, 1982.

COUNSEL

Thomas P. Gadsden, with him Robert H. Young and Mark J. Kropilak, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, of counsel: Edward G. Bauer, Jr., Vice President & General Counsel, and Irene A. McKenna, for petitioner.

Marlane R. Chestnut, Assistant Counsel, with her Albert W. Johnson, III, Deputy Chief Counsel, and Charles F. Hoffman, Chief Counsel, for respondent.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Rogers, Williams, Jr., Craig, MacPhail, Doyle and Barry. Opinion by Judge Barry. President Judge Crumlish, Judge Williams, and Judge MacPhail dissent.

Author: Barry

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 446]

The Philadelphia Electric Company (PECO) has petitioned this Court for review of a June 25, 1982 order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) which required PECO to impose a surcharge on all of its residential customers using PECO's gas for outdoor lights.

On September 28, 1981, PECO filed Supplement No. 21 to Tariff Gas-PA. PUC No. 24 seeking to increase its rates effective November 27, 1981. By an order adopted November 25, 1981 and entered December 8, 1981, the PUC instituted an investigation to determine the lawfulness, justness and reasonableness of the proposed rates, thereby suspending Supplement

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 447]

No. 21 until June 27, 1982 in accordance with the provisions of Section 1308(d) of the Public Utility Code, Act of July 1, 1978, P.L. 598, 66 Pa. C.S. ยง 101.

Subsequently, twelve days of evidentiary hearings were held between December 22, 1981 and March 3, 1982. During this period, the PUC's prosecutory staff recommended that a significant annual surcharge be imposed on all of PECO's residential customers using outdoor gas lights. On April 29, 1982, the Administrative Law Judge presiding over the hearings issued a recommended decision which, inter alia, rejected the prosecutory staff's recommendation of a surcharge for outdoor gas lighting. Exceptions were filed by various parties, including the prosecutory staff which specifically excepted to the rejection of the outdoor gas lighting pricing scheme. On June 25, 1982, the PUC entered an order which, inter alia, adopted the prosecutory staff's recommended surcharge for outdoor gas lights. PECO subsequently petitioned the Court for review of the PUC's order.*fn1

In this case, PECO argues that the questioned surcharge is unlawfully discriminatory as it charges residential customers receiving the same service under similar circumstances different rates solely on the basis of the customers ultimate use of the gas purchased from PECO. Furthermore, PECO argues that the PUC abused its discretion in requiring PECO to adopt a pricing scheme that is too costly to administer on an equitable basis. For the reasons that follow, we believe PECO's arguments are unpersuasive. The PUC's order, therefore, must be affirmed.

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 448]

This Court's standard of review from orders of the PUC setting rate structure is a limited one. The ...


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