PUC Actions Related to COVID-19

 

PUC office buildings are closed. The PUC remains fully operational with personnel working remotely. Keep checking back, this page will be kept up to date as resources and information change. 
 

Emergency Orders

Emergency Order Press Release on Suspension of Regulatory and Statutory Deadlines - PUC Permitting Modifications to Administrative Deadlines, Procedural Rules for the Commission’s Filing and Service Requirements, dated March 20, 2020. Docket No. M-2020-3019262. Emergency Order

Emergency Order Press Release on Supplier Marketing - Press Release: PUC Suspends Door-to-Door, In-Person Marketing Activities for Energy Suppliers During Governor’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency, dated March 16, 2020. Docket No. M-2020-3019254. Emergency Order

Emergency Order Press Release on Terminations - PUC Prohibits Utility Terminations, Consistent with Governor’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency, dated March 13, 2020. Docket No. M-2020-3019244. Emergency Order

 

Secretarial Letters

Secretarial Letter on Modification to the Emergency Order on Filing and Service Requirements - The PUC's Secretarial Letter permitting modifications to the Emergency Order on administrative deadlines and procedural rules for the Commission’s filing and service requirements, dated July 27, 2020 at  Docket No. M-2020-3019262.

Secretarial Letter on COVID-19 Customer Service, Billing and Public Outreach - The PUC's Secretarial Letter on COVID-19 Customer Service, Billing and Public Outreach Provisions Request for Utility Information at Docket No. M-2020-3020055. Dated May 29, 2020. All jurisdictional fixed utilities have until the close of business (4:30 p.m. EST) on Monday, June 15, 2020 to file its responses.

Secretarial Letter on COVID-19 Cost Tracking - The PUC's Secretarial Letter on COVID-19 Cost Tracking and Creation of Regulatory Asset at Docket No. M-2020-3019775. Dated May 13, 2020.
 

Press Releases

PUC Continues to Educate Consumers - PUC continues to educate utility customers about their rights & responsibilities, assistance programs, & available resources during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as during the recovery period that will follow. Dated May 7, 2020.

PUC Urges Consumers to Know Their Options - PUC is urging consumers to understand the resources & options available to help keep utility service affordable during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Consumers should contact their utilities for assistance before bills become past-due. Dated April 8, 2020.

PUC Urges Electric Safety AwarenessPUC urges extra caution with spring projects & increased awareness of home electric safety during current pandemic. Dated April 2, 2020.

PUC Urges Homeowners to Delay Digging Projects - PUC recognizes Safe Digging Month & urges homeowners to delay digging projects during COVID-19 emergency declaration. Dated March 27, 2020.

PUC Shares Tips for Financially-Stressed Households - PUC urges financially stressed consumers to work with utilities to explore options and thanks utilities for safeguarding essential services. Dated March 27, 2020.

PUC Provides Tips on Telemarketing Sales - PUC provides tips on telemarketing sales and urges heightened vigilance for potential scams during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dated March 25, 2020. 

 

Commission Testimony

Testimony - Chairman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille testified before the House Commerce Committee on September 22, 2020 in regards to how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the Commission, utilities and consumers.

Testimony - Chairman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille testified on House Bill 2275 on September 3, 2020 before the House Democratic Policy Committee.

 

Public Meeting

The PUC will hold its next public meeting on Thursday, September 17, 2020, at 10:00 a.m., BUT will be conducted telephonically. Members of the public, the media and other will be able to access the telephone conference call to listen to the meeting.   

Interested parties can listen to the meeting by calling 1-888-917-8050, and then entering passcode 9570961#.

Public Meeting Agenda for September 17, 2020 -  Audio (Duration 31:32)

 

Public Input Hearings

Aqua Pennsylvania Wastewater Inc. to acquire the wastewater system assets of the Delaware County Regional Water Quality Control Authority (DELCORA) - Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 1 & 6 p.m.

Docket No. A-2019-3015173
 

Pennsylvania-American Water Company - Tuesday, August 18, Tuesday, August 25, Wednesday, August 26 and Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 1 & 6 p.m.

Docket Nos. R-2020-3019369 (water) and R-2020-30119371 (wastewater).

 

Damage Prevention Committee (DPC) Meeting

The PUC held a DPC meeting on Wednesday, September 9, 2020, at 9:00 a.m. through a Microsoft Teams Event.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020 - DPC Meeting Agenda  -  Summaries and Actions

 

Consumer Advisory Committee

The Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC) held a meeting on Tuesday, September 22, at 10 a.m.  Agenda

 

Consumer Hotline 800-692-7380

  • The Consumer Hotline is Open with limited staff to handle emergency calls. There may be a longer wait time.
  • If you are currently shut off, contact your utility to have your service restored. If the utility is unresponsive, contact our call center.

 

LIHEAP Recovery Crisis Program

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps low-income households pay some energy costs associated with heating your home. In response to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Unites States Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act, in part, has provided additional funding for LIHEAP to aid households that have been negatively financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to get this much needed assistance to as many households as possible, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) has created the LIHEAP Recovery Crisis Program. If your household is experiencing a heating emergency, such as being out of fuel or having a past due balance that may result in your electricity or natural gas being shut off, LIHEAP may be able to help. For more information on this special Recovery Crisis Program, visit the DHS website.

 

Internet & Telephone Service

FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge – Like the Commission in its Emergency Order, the FCC wants to ensure Americans do not lose their broadband or telephone connectivity as of result of the COVID-19 pandemic. So far more than 400 companies and associations have signed the pledge to Keep Americans Connected.

Some carriers are doing more than the FCC pledge to Keep America Connected. Questions about your broadband service should be directed to your service provider.

Your Rights to Broadband/Internet Service – Link to more information and the Broadband Bill of Rights

Lifeline Service

Contact your telephone company or a participating wireless services provider about Lifeline, a federal financial support program that helps eligible low-income consumers and households to keep their telephone and internet access. More information on Lifeline is available at www.lifelinesupport.org. You can also call Lifeline at 1-800-234-9473 between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week. The Commission has additional information on its Communications Assistance Programs page.

All previous Lifeline waivers governing recertification, reverification, general de-enrollment, subscriber usage, income documentation and documentation requirements for subscribers have been extended through Nov. 30, 2020.

Stay Connected with Lifeline - A brochure explaining telephone assistance programs. Updated April 2020.

More information on the federal government’s suspension of their Lifeline requirements is available at the USAC website.

 

2019 Assessment Reports

  • Due to the closure of nonessential businesses, and health concerns over Covid-19, the Commission is waiving the notarization requirement for the 2019 Assessment Reports at this time. For any questions, please contact 717-787-8612.
  • If you have the ability to scan and send the completed form to pucassessments@pa.gov, the report can be processed remotely.
  • If sending by mail, please note we will not be able to process or confirm receipt of the report until we return to the office.
     

2020-21 Assessments and Supplemental Fees

  • Invoices for the 2020-21 Assessment Billing and Supplemental Fee Billing are expected to be mailed out in September, as usual.
  • Payments are due 30 days after the invoice date. 
  • No waivers or extensions have been granted. Currently, we can only accept payment by check or money order.
     

EGS / NGS Annual Fees

  • Annual fee invoices were mailed out on May 27, 2020.  If you did not receive your invoice, please email us at pucassessments@pa.gov to request a copy.
  • Annual fees are due July 1, 2020.  No waivers or extensions have been granted.
  • Currently, we can only accept payment by check or money order.

 

Electric Generation Supplier (EGS) and Natural Gas Supplier (NGS) Quarterly and Annual Reporting Guidance 

The Pennsylvania Code, at 52 PA Code § 54.203, 52 PA Code § 54.39, and 52 PA Code § 62.110, requires the filing of Annual Retail Electricity Choice Sales Activity Reports, EGS Quarterly and Annual Reports, and NGS Annual Reports respectively. The Commission’s practice has been that original quarterly and annual reports are hard copy filed with the Commission’s Secretary’s Bureau as they contain confidential or proprietary information that cannot be e-filed. These reports are reviewed for sufficiency by the Secretary’s Bureau, the Bureau of Technical Utility Services and the Bureau of Administration. EGSs and NGSs are directed to continue this established procedure.

An EGS or NGS may contact Commission staff to discuss unique individual situations by emailing pc-puc-tus-energy@pagov.onmicrosoft.com.

 

Electric Generation Supplier (EGS) Financial Security Filing Guidance 

The Pennsylvania Code at 52 PA Code § 54.40(a) states that an electric generation supplier (EGS) license will not be issued or remain in force until the licensee furnishes a bond or other security approved by the Commission. The Commission’s practice has been that original financial securities are hard copy filed with the Commission’s Secretary’s Bureau and reviewed for sufficiency by both the Secretary’s Bureau and the Bureau of Technical Utility Services. EGSs are directed to continue this established procedure.  EGSs should file an original bond, letter of credit, continuation certificate, amendment, or other financial instrument. These original financial instruments should display “wet” signatures or digital signatures, preferably in blue ink, and display a “raised seal” or original notary stamp. If an EGS has been granted a reduction in its financial security, and it is time to renew the annual reduction, please file an original annual compliance filing with the Secretary’s Bureau.

An EGS may contact Commission staff to discuss unique individual situations by emailing pc-puc-tus-energy@pagov.onmicrosoft.com.

 

Motor Carrier Suspension of Authority

Notice - Motor carriers requesting voluntary suspension of their authority. Released April 10, 2020.

 

eFiling

The Commission is no longer open for business at its offices in Harrisburg and the public cannot be admitted to the Commission’s offices of the Commonwealth Keystone Building. Therefore, we can no longer accept hand delivered filings. All parties participating in matters pending before the Commission are required to open an efiling account – free of charge – through the Commission’s website and use efiling and eservice If you don’t have an eFiling account, it is easy to create one.  This requirement is in accordance with the Commission’s Emergency Order at M-2020-3019262 and updated at Secretarial Letter issued July 27, 2020.

We also urge the public to file only what is necessary or urgent.  The Commission did adopt an Emergency Order on March 13, 2020 preventing all shut offs of utility services. Please do not fax filings to the Commission as staff has been directed to work from home and we do not have access to the Commission’s fax machines.

 

Filings that CANNOT be eFiled

There are certain filings that cannot be eFiled, such as filings containing confidential or proprietary material, and formal complaints from complainants who are appealing a BCS decision and must file an appeal notice and formal complaint form by mail according to 52 Pa. Code Section 56.172. 

Secretary Chiavetta has waived the restriction on emailed filings and filings that contain confidential and proprietary material will be permitted to be filed by email directly to the Secretary at rchiavetta@pa.gov.

However, recently the Commission has secured limited access to its place of business.  Under these circumstances and consistent with the authority provided to the Secretary by the Emergency Order, the Commission has now modified some filing requirements to the extent necessary for the efficient conduct of Commission business. Therefore, certain filings containing confidential or proprietary material must now be sent only by overnight delivery with tracking ability.  The filings that should no longer be emailed and sent by overnight delivery are:

  1. Confidential filings made pursuant to  52 Pa. Code §§ 54.203, 54.39, and 62.110 (Annual Retail Electricity Choice Sales Activity Reports, EGS Quarterly and Annual Reports, and NGS Annual Reports, respectively), shall no longer be filed electronically with the Secretary but shall be filed by overnight delivery.
  2. Confidential filings made pursuant to 52 Pa. Code § 54.40(a) (EGS financial securities), shall be filed with the Secretary by overnight delivery.

The Commission’s address to be used for overnight delivery is:

Secretary
Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
400 North Street
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120 

Nothing herein alleviates the necessity to file the subject reports with the Bureau of Technical Utility Services, if otherwise required.   

Secretary Chiavetta has waived the restriction on emailed filings.  Fillings that contain confidential and proprietary material and other fillings not able to be eFiled, will be permitted to be filed by email.

Please do not fax filings to the Commission as staff has been directed to work from home and we do not have access to the Commission’s fax machines.

Finally, the Commission receives many inquiries from NGS’s and EGS’s regarding its receipt of payment of fees, fines, and assessments.  Given the Commission’s limited access to its place of business, it is not always able to readily answer these inquiries.  If you desire confirmation of receipt of payment, use a mailing service that provides same, such as USPS-Return Receipt, or overnight delivery with receipt confirmation. 

 

Confidential Security Information (CSI)

If you are submitting Confidential Security Information (CSI), it CANNOT be emailed. Overnight delivery is still the most acceptable method to file CSI, but since mail services have been disrupted, we will make arrangements for hand delivery to the Commission under extraordinary circumstances. Email Secretary Chiavetta that you have CSI to file before you actually file any CSI.

For more information, visit the eFiling page.

 

Cybersecurity

The Commission's Office of Cybersecurity Compliance and Oversight (PUC-OCCO) has been monitoring the evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and its impact on cybersecurity. The PUC-OCCO has been taking part in the Department of Homeland Security, Critical Infrastructure Security Agency (DHS-CISA) government and industry coordination calls. These calls issue guidance and information for critical infrastructure partners to prepare for, respond to, and mitigate any effects that a cybersecurity event would have on the utilities regulated by the PUC. During the weekly conference calls, DHS-CISA addresses the following cybersecurity issues:

  • Disinformation Campaigns – Foreign actors are using social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to spread fear about the federal government and to have people visit websites that spread malware.  DHS-CISA has recommended that organizations send an email to their employees to let them know not to trust information from social media services and unofficial news websites.  They also recommend going to the following website if they receive information that they believe is suspicious: https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus-rumor-control.
  • Phishing/Malware Attacks – With more workers teleworking, DHS-CISA has reported an increase in phishing and malware threats.  DHS-CISA recommends sending an email out to your employees alerting them to the increase in these threats.  They also recommend reinforcing your cyber-hygiene training programs.  DHS-CISA has information on their website that can help you with securing your critical infrastructure. You can find more information at:  https://www.cisa.gov/coronavirus.
  • System Patching – In addition to Phishing/Malware, DHS-CISA has seen an increase in vulnerability scanning and penetration attempts across all sectors.  They are recommending that organizations continue their patching processes and procedures.  They also have the latest threat and vulnerability information at: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas.
  • Cybersecurity Incident Response Plans – DHS-CISA has recommended that organizations review their cybersecurity incident response plans to make sure they are up-to-date and that your contact information is current.  They are also recommending you identify your service providers and suppliers in your plan and that you reach out to them during the COVID 19 crisis to ensure they can continue to support your organization during the pandemic.
  • Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers – DHS-CISA has put together a document that gives guidance to the private sector on defining essential critical infrastructure workers. Promoting the ability of such workers to continue to work during periods of community restriction, access management, social distancing, or closure orders/directives is crucial to community resilience and continuity of essential functions.  You can download this document at: https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce.

Please note, this is intended to provide guidance to help identify essential employees and not intended to be a credential document.  Only state and local authorities can grant access to restricted/hot zone areas.

  • Stay at Home Orders / Hot Zone Access – As you know, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has restricted access to areas that have COVID 19 outbreaks. In the event of a cybersecurity incident, please contact the PUC Emergency Lead Agency Representative (AREP) at 717-941-0003.  Follow up information may be sent to the Lead AREP email at:  ra-pucpema@pa.gov.
  • Citizen and Customer Cybersecurity Information – Cyber threats are not limited to the regulated utilities.  Cyber criminals are using the pandemic to take advantage of the crisis to steal customer Personal Identifiable Information (PII), credit card, and bank account information.  They are also using well-crafted emails to get them to malicious websites and download malicious email.  Customers who would like to get information on these threats and how to mitigate them should go to the DHS-CISA website.  The website is located at: https://www.cisa.gov/