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PA PUC to Take Over Rate Setting

PA PUC to Take Over Rate Setting

The Philadelphia Gas Commission's (PGC) long term role as sole regulator of Philadelphia Gas Works' (PGW) is coming to an end. PGW will have to answer to a new governing body, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC). The state agency will now set the utility's rates, as well as follow up on customer complaints and concerns.

The transfer of regulatory duties makes good on a promise included in Pennsylvania's comprehensive deregulation bill signed last summer by Gov. Tom Ridge.

The bill included a section requiring PGW to fall under the regulation of PUC. PGW is an acquisition, storage, processing, and distribution municipal, the largest city-owned gas utility in the country serving over 518,00 customers in Philadelphia. In recent years, the company has been marred by computer system problems, debt, and customer discontent. Last year's brand new $70 million computer system over-billed some customers, and did not bill others at all.

The municipality had been solely regulated by the gas commission ever since a three member board was appointed in 1927.

"Essentially, it (PGW) was not taken away from the gas commission, PGC remains in place, and does everything we've traditionally done, the only thing that really moved from the gas commission is the adjudication of customer disputes," said Chris Kimmerle, executive director of the gas commission. "We still resolve disputes, we just don't have the final say anymore."

Kimmerle went on to explain the other duty that will be passed on to the PUC. "Traditionally we have had total rate-making authority. Now our rates will come regulated from the public utility commission, but we still will be involved in the overall management of PGW. The Philadelphia Gas Commission is the body that oversees the operation of the assets of the city of Philadelphia, which are collectively known as the Philadelphia Gas Works. PGW is not a company as such; it is just a collection of assets," Kimmerle explained.

Alex Steis

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