PUC Approves Joint Settlement with PPL Electric
Published on 8/17/2006
Filed under: Electric
HARRISBURG—The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today approved a settlement agreement between the PUC’s independent prosecutory staff and PPL Electric that includes $175,000 for the company’s low-income program after an informal investigation into the utility’s termination practices.
“This settlement will directly benefit PPL customers who need assistance the most,” said Commission Chairman Wendell F. Holland. “I thank all the parties involved in reaching this settlement. This agreement is an example of a continuous effort and commitment to protect the interest of utility consumers, while reinforcing the guidelines of Chapter 14 terminations.”
The Commission voted 5-0 to approve the settlement that includes $175,000 for Operation Help.
Operation Help provides emergency financial aid to pay heating bills for families with financial hardships. Operation Help is funded by the company, its customers and employees and is administered by a network of local agencies. The settlement also provides that the penalty will be paid by the utility and will not be recovered in rates paid by its customers.
The terms of the settlement agreement reached by the PUC’s prosecutory staff and PPL Electric include:
- PPL will develop an updated winter service termination plan and review the plan with the PUC’s Bureau of Consumer Services;
- PPL will evaluate and revise current training material for customer service representatives incorporating lessons learned from the 2004-05 winter period. PPL will establish a routine process for retraining, if necessary, to ensure that the customer service representatives adhere to Chapter 14 termination requirements; and
- PPL will revise its 3-day script for winter service termination to highlight low-income qualifications prior to winter service terminations.
According to the PUC’s prosecutory staff, PPL violated the winter termination provisions of Chapter 14 of the Public Utility Code by terminating customers without income information; failing to deliver a 48-hour shut off notice; failing to reconnect service within 24 hours of their claim that their income was at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty level; and assessing a $15 reconnection fee to low-income customers.
PPL denies those assertations.
Chapter 14 (Act 201 of 2004) seeks to eliminate the opportunities for customers capable of paying to avoid paying their utility bills, and to provide utilities with the means to reduce their uncollectible accounts. The law changed the way regulated electric, water and major natural gas utilities handle cash deposits; reconnection of service; termination of service; payment arrangements; and the filing of termination complaints by residential customers.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission ensures safe, reliable and reasonably priced electric, natural gas, water, telephone and transportation service for Pennsylvania consumers, by regulating public utilities and by serving as stewards of competition.
For recent news releases, or more information about the PUC, visit our website at www.puc.state.pa.us.
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Docket No. M-00061942
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