PUC Highlights 2022 Accomplishments
Published on 12/22/2022
Filed under: Electric Gas Motor Carrier Pipeline Rails Telecommunications Transportation and Safety Water and Wastewater
PUC Celebrated 85th Anniversary as an Independent Commission, Along with Other 2022 Accomplishments
HARRISBURG – During its final public meeting for 2022, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) continued a tradition of highlighting major accomplishments over the past year, including a major milestone for the agency.
“On March 31, we marked the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the PUC as an independent administrative commission,” noted PUC Chairman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille. “For more than eight decades, the PUC has faithfully carried out our mission of balancing the needs of consumers and utilities, and despite the challenges and lingering effects posed by a global pandemic, the Commission achieved many important successes this past year.”
The PUC successfully conducted every PUC Public Meeting that was scheduled for 2022, returning to in-person and livestreamed meetings in April. The Commission also returned to hybrid in-person and virtual meetings of the Damage Prevention Committee and the Consumer Advisory Council.
New PUC Commissioners
During 2022 the PUC welcomed two new commissioners – Vice Chairman Stephen M. DeFrank and Commissioner Kathryn L. Zerfuss, along with the reappointment of Commissioner John F. Coleman Jr. – returning the Commission to its full complement of five commissioners.
Filing & Resources
The PUC Secretary's Bureau received approximately 26,000 filings submitted in 2022 and served approximately 10,000 documents. The Commission received and answered more than 140 Right-to-Know requests in 2022 and more than six million pages of historical records are now available online.
The PUC’s Office of Administrative Law Judge presided over a mix of telephonic and in-person hearings – a total of 525 evidentiary hearings and 24 public input hearings. In addition, 172 were resolved through mediation and presiding officers rendered 236 written decisions.
Throughout 2022, the PUC’s Office of Special Assistants prepared 205 Orders for Commission consideration at Public Meetings in proceedings involving consumers and regulated utilities.
In 2022, the PUC Law Bureau regularly represented the Commission in an average of 62 open state and federal court appeals, administrative proceedings and matters involving affirmative litigation. Ninety percent of the 30 proceedings that concluded with decisions resulted in the courts affirming the Commission’s opinions or other positive outcomes in support of the Commission’s position.
Throughout the year the Commission has continued to vigorously promote our #CallUtilitiesNow initiative – working to connect struggling consumers with utility assistance programs. The pressures of rising energy prices, inflation, and the ongoing state and national recovery continue to impact our communities. It is important that we work collectively to help keep residents and businesses connected to vital services.
Our PUC consumer education team planned this year's season’s Be Wise and Be Utility Wise conferences for human service professionals, which reached more than 700 participants through a hybrid in-person and virtual approach.
Through educational outreach, we encouraged Pennsylvanians to stay connected through the Affordable Connectivity Program, a benefit started by the Federal Communications Commission.
The PUC’s Bureau of Consumer Services answered more than 115,000 calls and investigated and issued more than 60,000 informal complaint decisions.
Also, new technologies were implemented to enhance customer care through the PUC’s new Artificially Intelligent Virtual Agent, or “Aiva,” providing 24-7 bilingual assistance to web visitors and callers.
Commission staff participated in several emergency preparedness exercises and activities with our colleagues at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, along with other agencies and utility stakeholders, such as the PJM grid security exercise and the Commonwealth’s hazard mitigation plan update, as well as a collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s energy security plan for Pennsylvania.
Additionally, the PUC’s Office of Cybersecurity and Compliance Oversight updated the Cybersecurity Best Practices for Small and Medium Pennsylvania Utilities guide, held a cybersecurity symposium, and issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking related to cyber issues.
The PUC’s Safety Divisions conducted more than 3,000 electric and pipeline safety field inspections. Thirty electric and pipeline incident investigations were handled by the divisions.
Also, during 2022, more than 400 underground facility owners, excavators and project owners were directed to attend Act 50 training (related to the Pennsylvania One Call Law), while the PUC’s Damage Prevention Committee (DPC) approved 1,774 violations related nearly 500 cases that were addressed during this year’s 11 DPC meetings.
The PUC’s Motor Carrier Enforcement Division conducted 77 focused reviews on carriers, completed more than 2,200 Federal New Entrant Safety Audits and more than 4,000 roadside inspections of commercial motor vehicles.
The PUC distributed $234 million this year through impact fees on natural gas producers – pushing the 10-year total to more than $2.2 billion collected and distributed to communities across the state. Additionally, more than 72% of our utilities accessed the PUC’s assessment portal online to report annual revenues.
The PUC Audits team released 33 reports covering 83 years of adjustment clauses and reviewed and approved approximately 381 adjustment clause filings. Management Audit staff released four Management Audits, two Management Efficiency Investigations and the 516 Annual Report for Calendar Year 2022.
The PUC’s rates and technical divisions participated in 12 base rate cases with a total requested increase value of more than $471 million, five Section 1329 acquisitions and seven Section 1307(f) annual purchased gas cost filings.
Energy Retail Markets
The PUC’s Office of Competitive Market Oversight continued to monitor the developments within the wholesale energy markets and our efforts to help consumers deal with affordability concerns. This included convening a meeting on November 1 of the Committee Handling Activities for Retail Growth in Electricity (CHARGE), including suppliers, utilities, and advocates to review current market conditions and concerns. There are currently 464 electric generation suppliers and 333 natural gas suppliers licensed with the Commission.
State Agencies and Stakeholders
The Commission also extended heartfelt gratitude sister state agencies, consumer and small business advocates, industry stakeholders and regulated utilities who have worked alongside the PUC this past year.
About the PUC
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.
Visit the PUC’s website at puc.pa.gov for recent news releases and video of select proceedings. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube. Search for the “Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission” or “PA PUC” on your favorite social media channel for updates on utility issues and other helpful consumer information.
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