Public Utility Commission

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, pursuant to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Code at 66 Pa. C.S. §101 et seq., is statutorily mandated to supervise all public utilities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Those utilities include electric, telephone, gas, water, railroads and motor carriers. The Commission has implemented various substantive and procedural regulations regarding the supervision of those utilities codified at 52 Pa. Code §1.1 et seq. In order to carry out these statutorily-mandated responsibilities, the Commission has an Office of Administrative Law Judge (OALJ) that employs 21 administrative law judges and hearing officers in four regional offices (Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Scranton) who hold formal hearings in cases involving the various public utilities regulated by the Commission. In addition, the Commission employs two mediators to attempt to resolve disputes without the need for a formal hearing process.
 
The OALJ holds formal on-the-record proceedings in numerous types of cases. Those cases include, but are not limited to: rate proceedings involving all utility types that range from thousands of dollars to millions of dollars, complex telecommunications cases, Commission investigations as to the terms and quality of utility service, Commission prosecutory proceedings involving violations of the Public Utility Code and Commission regulations, the placement or expansion of high voltage electric transmission facilities throughout the state, rail/highway crossings, motor carrier safety proceedings, assessment objections, individual customer complaints involving a customers inability to pay for utility services, and individual customer complaints alleging inappropriate service or behavior on the part of utilities.
 
In order to carry out these proceedings, the Commission has formal procedural regulations governing the conduct of these cases. The procedural rules regulate what can be filed, how a party is to conduct the case, how and when a hearing officer should issue a decision, how a party can appeal that decision, and how the Commission should review the appeal. See 52 Pa Code Chapters 1, 3 and 5. Each party is provided with due process including the right to present witnesses, the right to cross examine witnesses, the right to make relevant legal arguments, and the right to appeal a hearing officer's determination by the filing of exceptions.
 
The largest volume of PUC cases involve customer complaints against utilities regarding the customers ability to pay for utility services and/or the failure of the utility to provide adequate or reasonable service. Many of these cases arise from large urban areas and there is more of a need for interpreters/translators in some of these cases. The hearings usually involve only the complainant and the utility. Many complaints do not have attorneys and represent themselves while the utility is represented by counsel and generally has at least one expert witness available to testify. Each of these cases normally includes some case preparation time, one to two hours of hearing time, and occasionally involves the preparation of briefs.

PUC Contact Persons

Christine Williams, Administrator
PUC Office of Administrative Law Judge
(717) 787-5633
 
Kimberly Haffner, Legal Division Supervisor
PUC Office of Administrative Law Judge
(717) 705-3822
 
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