HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today marked its 80th anniversary as an independent state agency.
“For eight decades, my colleagues, along with the Commissioners who came before us, have focused on ensuring safe and reliable utility service to the Commonwealth’s 12 million residents,” said PUC Chairman Gladys M. Brown. “We are very much aware that the approximately 9,000 utilities we oversee, and the cases that come before us, impact the daily lives of citizens across the state – including their lights and heat, the water they drink, transportation services, and their ability to communicate with coworkers, customers, family and friends.”
Act 43 of 1937, adopted on March 31 of that year, created the PUC, with a mission to “supervise and regulate” all public utilities operating in Pennsylvania.
The current PUC replaced the earlier Public Service Commission, which had been established in 1913 as a successor to the Pennsylvania State Railroad Commission. The Railroad Commission was created in 1907, to oversee railroads, and address issues and complaints sparked by the rapid development of streetcar and telegraph systems.
“Since those early days, safety has been a key focus for the PUC and its predecessors – whether that involves railroads, electric and natural gas lines, or water service, or more distinctly modern issues, like cybersecurity, renewable energy and autonomous vehicles,” noted Chairman Brown. “The challenges facing our residents and our utilities continue to evolve, and the Commission is always working to address new challenges while remaining dedicated to our mission of serving the public interest.”
As noted in the PUC’s most recent annual report, the Commission is working to address a diverse list of concerns for the future:
Ensuring the reliability and resiliency of utility service in the face of physical and cyber threats, including hosting a June 2016 “Black Sky” exercise to test Pennsylvania’s ability to respond to a large-scale disruption of power and utility services.
Encouraging the ongoing modernization and improvement of utility infrastructure to help ensure the reliability of service as well as to provide greater access to unserved or underserved areas.
Exploring the future of utility ratemaking, including discussions on how to best maintain safe and reliable infrastructure while also encouraging more aggressive energy efficiency and conservation programs.
Further promoting the use of combined heat and power (CHP) technology, which can increase efficiency, lower costs, reduce emissions and create greater reliability.
Addressing advancements for transportation services, including updated regulations intended to eliminate barriers to qualified passenger carriers while still ensuring safe and reliable operations.
Continuing the PUC’s focus on rail and pipeline safety activities.
And exploring opportunities to enhance public participation, including the use of “Smart Hearings” to broadcast key PUC discussions live to a statewide audience, while also allowing concerned citizens to testify remotely – rather than traveling to Harrisburg or other hearing sites.
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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