PUC Adopts Final Implementation Order for Chapter 14
Published on 6/11/2015
HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today adopted final rules regarding the implementation of Chapter 14 of the Public Utility Code (Chapter 14).
The Commission voted 5-0 to adopt the Final Implementation Order, which addresses two areas:
- New utility reporting requirements; and
- The new definition of medical certificate.
The Order addresses Chapter 56 of the Public Utility Code (Chapter 56), which is partially superseded by Act 155 of 2014 (Act 155), which reauthorized and amended Chapter 14. The Order provides guidance to utilities for the new requirement that requires them to report residential account balances that exceed $10,000. The Commission expects to address all clarification issues in an upcoming rulemaking to bring Chapter 56 of the Public Utility Code into alignment with Act 155.
Commissioner Robert F. Powelson issued a motion related to Chapter 14’s definition of medical certificates. Prior to Act 155, the Public Utility Code contained no definition for medical certificates. The definition was administered by Chapter 56 of Commission regulations, which allowed for written or oral certification. Several Pennsylvania utilities sought guidance on whether the current practice of accepting verbal medical certificates is still acceptable in light of the changes to Chapter 14.
Act 155 added the following definition to Chapter 14 the Public Utility Code: “A written document, in a form approved by the Commission: 1) certifying that a customer or member of the customer’s household is seriously ill or has been diagnosed with a medical condition which requires the continuation of service to treat the medical condition; and 2) signed by a licensed physician, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant.”
“In adding the above definition to Chapter 14, the General Assembly gave clear and unambiguous direction on two key aspects of medical certificates: that they be written documents and that they be signed. Section 56.113’s allowance of verbal medical certificates is legally incompatible with this new definition,” said Commissioner Powelson in his motion. “I believe allowing the status quo regarding verbal medical certificates would subvert the intent of the legislature’s inclusion of the ‘written’ and ‘signed’ requirements.”
Act 155 was signed into law on Oct. 22, 2014, by Governor Tom Corbett. It amends Chapters 5, 14, 22 and 28 of the Public Utility Code. In addition to establishing a definition for medical certificate, Act 155 allows the PUC to: 1) establish annual fees to fund the Commission’s oversight of natural gas suppliers and electric generation suppliers; 2) include the intrastate operating revenues of licensed entities in determining its budget cap; and 3) exclude from its budget cap funds received from the federal government and other sources to perform functions unrelated to the Commission’s jurisdictional regulation.
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.
For recent news releases and video of select Commission proceedings or more information about the PUC, visit our website at www.puc.pa.gov. Follow the PUC on Twitter – @PA_PUC for all things utility. “Like” Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Facebook for easy access to information on utility issues.
Docket No. M-2014-2448824
Deputy Press Secretary
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