HARRISBURG – Under the unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) Chairman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille today signed an emergency order permitting the modification of regulatory and statutory deadlines and procedural rules affecting filing and service requirements with the PUC as well as time periods established for the Commission to take final action on matters before it.
“Under current circumstances, it has become necessary to take additional measures to ensure continued operations during this period,” Chairman Dutrieuille stated. “These measures are intended to prevent regulatory or statutory procedural rules, including those providing for the calculation of time periods for final Commission action, from interfering with the overall conduct of Commission business in the public interest during the emergency.”
Chairman Dutrieuille added that today’s emergency order is consistent with Gov. Wolf’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency which authorizes and directs the suspension of “the provisions of any regulatory statute prescribing the procedures for conduct of Commonwealth business, or the orders, rules or regulations of any Commonwealth agency, if strict compliance with the provisions . . . would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with this emergency.”
Today’s Emergency Order is the third such action initiated by the Commission since the Governor’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency on March 6th. On Monday, Chairman Dutrieuille signed an emergency order prohibiting electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, telecommunications and steam utility terminations; and then followed on Wednesday with an emergency order suspending door-to-door and in-person sales and marketing activities by competitive energy suppliers and their agents.
Pursuant to the Commission’s regulations governing emergency relief, an emergency order will be issued only when there exists a clear and present danger to life or property or when the relief requested is uncontested and action is required prior to the next scheduled public meeting.
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.
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