The formal complaint process involves a legal proceeding where you and the utility must present facts on issues raised in your complaint to a PUC administrative law judge. The process can take six months or more until a complaint is adjudicated.
Individuals or companies may file formal complaints. Individuals are not required to have a lawyer to file a formal complaint. However, companies must be represented by an attorney.
The utility is given the opportunity to file an answer to your complaint. Then the case is assigned to the PUC administrative law judges and scheduled for a hearing. At the hearing, you must present evidence that meets the burden of proof and explain why your complaint has merit. PUC commissioners may then rule on the decisions at a public meeting.
Select a Type of Complaint to File
If you do not want to enter into a legal proceeding with a formal complaint, another option is to submit an informal complaint. This involves filling out a simple online form and the issue is typically resolved in just 3 to 5 business days.
Register an objection or comment to a proposed rate increase by your utility company and it will be placed in the official document folder of the case. It will be reviewed by the presiding officer, the parties to the case and PUC staff. A public input hearing may also be scheduled in your area to give consumers an opportunity to voice their opinions on the proposed rate increase.
File a formal complaint against a utility company's proposed rate increase to become a party to a legal proceeding or case. (If you do not wish to be a party to the case, consider filing a Comment to Proposed Rate Increase instead. See above.)
There is a specific process to file a protest to object to the approval of an application filed with the PUC. This include applications for high voltage transmission lines.
The procedure to file an official Protest to an Application can be found at 52 Pa. Code, Sections 5.51, 5.52, and 5.53. The person filing the Protest is called the Protestant and must meet the criteria stated in these regulations to file a Protest.
Section 5.51(a) states that a person objecting to the approval of an Application filed with the Commission may file a Protest.
Section 5.52 (a)(1)(2)(3)(c) sets forth the content that must be included in the Protest, such as:
- (a)(1) what is the alleged right or interest of the person filing the Protest;
- (a)(2) state the grounds for the Protest;
- (a)(3) Set forth facts that the Protestant has standing to file the Protest (this means the Protestant must state facts showing he/she is affected by the Application);
- (c) the Protestant must file the Protest with the Secretary of the Commission, and serve (mail a copy by first class mail) of the Protest to the Applicant.
Two items should accompany the Protest when it is filed with the Secretary:
- A “Verification” sworn by the Protestant swearing that the facts presented are true and correct (an example of a Verification can be found at 52 Pa. Code Section 1.36(b)).
- A Certificate of Service must also be filed with the Protest telling the Secretary a copy was mailed to the Applicant (example can be found at 52 Pa. Code Section 1.58(a)).
Section 5.53 sets the time period for filing a Protest to the Application. Protests filed after the deadline of the filing period will not be accepted by the Commission. A Notice will be published in the PA Bulletin setting the filing period for Protests, explaining the Application, and the addresses of the Secretary of the Commission and the Applicant.
File a formal complaint against a utility company for any issues other than proposed rate increases. This may include billing issues, service quality or increases to variable rate increases.
Mediation and Formal Complaints
If you do file a formal complaint, the PUC encourages you to consider mediation as a way to resolve your problem. Mediation is a voluntary, confidential and non-binding process through which a neutral third party, the mediator, assists the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable settlement of their disputes.
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