The Mid-Atlantic Power Supply Association (MAPSA) has filed a petition before the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court requesting a review of an order issued by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) that MAPSA claims will bail out GPU utilities at the expense of electric customers and competitors.

MAPSA said its lawsuit is in response to a June decision by the PUC to allow GPU companies — Metropolitan Edison Co. and Pennsylvania Electric Co. — to defer collection of electric costs from customers through a period that will extend until Dec. 31 (see Daily GPI, June 18). MAPSA claims that the PUC is trading customer choice for utility corporate interests.

“Permitting the GPU companies to defer the full collection of their actual cost of power to preserve existing price caps only hides the real cost from the customer, like they have done in California,” stated MAPSA Executive Director Suzanne Daycock. “Worse yet, because all GPU customers will eventually be stuck footing GPU’s full tab for power, a customer that might have saved money by choosing a competitor offering electricity at a lower price than GPU’s full cost would be a fool to switch suppliers right now. Eventually, that customer will use his savings to pay for energy received by another GPU customer under this crazy scheme. In the end, the cost of this utility bailout will be customer choice, if this order is allowed to stand.”

Included in its petition for review, MAPSA accuses the Commission of going “well beyond the pale of its administrative discretion,” and claims that the PUC’s attempt to preserve rate caps while saving GPU from higher than expected wholesale power costs “leaves customer choice for dead.” MAPSA said that because Pennsylvania’s competition statute trusts competition rather than regulation to strike the proper balance between supply and demand, the commission’s action disregards the letter and spirit of the act by imposing a “dangerous roadblock to efficient markets.”

“The Commission has effectively issued a GPU credit card to the company’s customers that allows them to pay the minimum due while principal and interest charges accrue for collection later,” Daycock continued. “However, unlike a credit card, even customers who don’t want GPU as a supplier will be forced to pay for a product they didn’t buy.” As a result, MAPSA contends that the Commission’s order unlawfully discriminates against competitive suppliers and their customers.

“If this order is not reversed, no regulator or politician in Pennsylvania may truthfully say that electric competition is either favored or functional in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Daycock added. “I know that the Commission’s decision has been heralded as a ‘no rate hike’ victory in certain circles. From my perspective, the order amounts to a ‘don’t pay me now; pay me later’ defeat for Pennsylvania customers and for competition in the Commonwealth.”

MAPSA is an association of suppliers of competitive retail and wholesale electric generation that provide power to customers in Pennsylvania and in other locations within the Pennsylvania-New Jersey- Maryland (PJM) Interconnection, which includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia.

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