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EAST GOSHEN TOWNSHIP AND WEST GOSHEN TOWNSHIP v. PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION (01/10/85)

decided: January 10, 1985.

EAST GOSHEN TOWNSHIP AND WEST GOSHEN TOWNSHIP, PETITIONERS
v.
PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission in case of Robert C. Bove et al., John F. McCormick, Jr., East Goshen Township and West Goshen Township v. Great Valley Water Company, Nos. C-22446, C-22447, C-22452 and C-22461.

COUNSEL

Ronald C. Nagle, with him, Robert F. Adams, for petitioners.

Thomas J. Sniscak, Assistant Counsel, with him, Barbara S. Kahoe, Assistant Counsel, Louise A. Knight, Deputy Chief Counsel, and Charles F. Hoffman, Chief Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Williams, Jr., Doyle and Barry, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry.

Author: Barry

[ 87 Pa. Commw. Page 53]

This appeal results from an order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (Commission) reversing an order of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) which had ordered the Great Valley Water Company (Great Valley) to take certain steps in order to improve its service in East Goshen Township and West Goshen Township.

In June, 1977, four complaints were filed with the Commission alleging that Great Valley was providing inadequate service; two of the complaints were filed by residents of East Goshen Township and both of the Townships (petitioners) filed complaints. The four complaints were consolidated. Hearings on the complaints were held in May, 1978, at which numerous witnesses testified about problems because of inadequate water pressure. Two years later, in May of 1980, the ALJ issued his initial decision finding that Great Valley was not providing adequate service and accordingly ordering Great Valley to take certain steps to rectify the deficiencies. Great Valley filed

[ 87 Pa. Commw. Page 54]

    both exceptions to the initial decision and a petition for reconsideration, alleging that in the two year interim since the hearings it had made improvements to the system and was now rendering adequate service. The ALJ, holding that additional hearings were unnecessary, dismissed the exceptions and affirmed his initial decision.

Shortly thereafter, the Commission, by letter of its secretary, requested the parties to file supplemental briefs on the issue of the current status of Great Valley's then present service to its customers. The Commission thereafter ordered the ALJ to conduct additional hearings which were, in fact, held on January 25, 1982. In December of 1982, the ALJ issued another initial decision, finding that service was still inadequate and ordering specific improvements. Great Valley filed exceptions which the ALJ dismissed. Great Valley appealed to the Commission in February, 1983, and the appeal was sustained as the Commission found that Great Valley was providing adequate service. As a result, the Commission dismissed the complaints. Both East Goshen Township and West Goshen Township appealed to this Court.

When reviewing an order of the Commission, this Court is limited to determining whether constitutional rights have been violated, whether an error of law has been committed or whether the necessary factual findings are supported by substantial evidence. Pennsylvania Electric Company v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, 53 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 186, 417 A.2d 819 (1980). Furthermore, Section 1501 of the Public Utility Code (Code), 66 Pa. C.S. § 1501, requires public utilities to

     furnish and maintain adequate, efficient, safe, and reasonable service and facilities, and shall make all ...


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