PUC Modifies Orders for COVID-Related Utility Cost Tracking, Added Consumer Protections, and Other Emergency Changes
Published on 7/15/2021
Pandemic-Related Orders Revisited Following Termination of Pennsylvania’s Disaster Emergency Proclamation
HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today revisited and modified two COVID-related emergency orders, considering the termination of the state’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency, along with the “temporary regulatory flexibility authority” provided to agencies under Pennsylvania House Bill 854 (HB854).
The Commission voted 4-0 to adopt the proposed orders, which modify several previous pandemic-related items.
The first order adopted today addresses utility tracking and reporting of extraordinary COVID-19 related expenses, along with enhanced consumer protections that were established in connection with the Commission’s pandemic-related service termination moratorium. Provisions of that order had been scheduled to continue until Dec. 31, 2021 – but that expiration date has now been revised to Sept. 30, 2021, to conform with the requirements of HB854.
Most notably for consumers – this change means that residential and small business customers seeking COVID-related extended payment plan options to address past due utility bills must establish those payment arrangements before Sept. 30, 2021. After that date, payment arrangements will adhere to the provisions of the Public Utility Code and Commission regulations that were in place prior to the pandemic.
The second order adopted today involves the PUC’s suspension of certain regulatory and statutory deadlines under appropriate circumstance, along with the modification of PUC filing and service requirements. The provisions were put in place at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic emergency – including the emergency requirement that all documents be electronically filed with the Commission, and that service of any documents by the Commission would be exclusively electronic. These steps were taken to facilitate the continuation of Commission business during the emergency even though the PUC’s physical locations were closed.
To conform with the requirements of HB854, these emergency provisions will now expire on Sept. 30, 2021.
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