HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) will host two online “Smart Hearings” in an effort to make it easier for utility customers to comment on a proposed rate increase request by UGI Utilities Inc. – Gas Division (UGI).
The Smart Hearings are broadcast on the PUC website and enable residents throughout Pennsylvania to see and hear the testimony being offered without the need to travel in order to attend the hearings in person. During the Smart Hearings, concerned individuals will be able to offer their comments by telephone, from the convenience of their homes or other locations, to be included in the live Internet stream. In-person testimony at the Harrisburg hearing site also will be included for those who prefer to comment in that manner.
“Public input hearings are an important tool to help the Commission determine what, if any, of each requested rate increase is justified,” said PUC Chairman Gladys M. Brown. “In situations like this, where a utility serves a large number of consumers spread over a wide geographic area, we are working to make it easier for more people to offer their comments during the ratemaking process.”
UGI provides service to nearly 390,000 customers in Eastern and Central Pennsylvania. On Feb. 11, 2016, the Commission voted unanimously to investigate the company’s request for a $58.6 million (17.5 percent) increase in annual revenues.
The PUC has scheduled two Smart Hearings for the UGI rate increase request, to be held at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 31, 2016.
First used in 2015 during the review of an electric distribution rate case, Smart Hearings nearly doubled the amount of public participation compared to traditional hearings, where all witnesses are required to appear in-person.
PUC Administrative Law Judge Susan D. Colwell will conduct both Smart Hearings, which will be live-streamed on the PUC website and will include both telephone and in-person testimony:
Thursday, March 31, 2016
1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Hearing Room 1
Commonwealth Keystone Building
400 North St.
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Those wishing to offer testimony by telephone during the Smart Hearing should contact the Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA) at 717-783-5048 or 800-684-6560 no later than 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, in order to register and receive additional information. Those who register to testify will be provided in advance with a 15-minute window of time when they can expect to be called in order to provide their testimony. Those who wish to attend the Harrisburg hearings can sign in at the time of the hearing.
Rate Increase Request:
Under the rate increase request submitted by UGI, the average monthly bill for a residential customer using 57.3 ccf of gas per month would increase from $51.77 to $61.97 (19.7 percent).
The request is suspended for up to seven months and has been assigned to the Office of Administrative Law Judge for public hearings and a recommended decision. A final decision must be made by Oct. 19, 2016 or the rate increase request will automatically go into effect. More information on the ratemaking process is available on the Commission’s website.
Offering Comment at a Hearing
Members of the public are welcome to attend the hearings and provide comments. Their testimony will become part of the record on which the PUC will issue its final decision.
The PUC and Office of Consumer Advocate offer tips on how to participate, including:
Prepare what you are going to say beforehand. Even though it is not required, you may want to write out your statement, which can be read.
Bring copies if you are attending an in-person hearing. If you have a written statement you would like to give to the judge, please bring two copies for the court reporter and several copies for the other participants.
Plan to be questioned. Parties in the case may want to ask you a question to clarify something you said.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.
For recent news releases and video of select Commission proceedings or more information about the PUC, visit our website at www.puc.pa.gov. Follow the PUC on Twitter – @PA_PUC for all things utility. “Like” Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Facebook for easy access to information on utility issues.
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Docket No.: R-2015-2518438