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PUC Invites Comments On Rule Changes For Water, Wastewater Utility Certification

The Public Utility Commission published notice in the May 16 PA Bulletin of an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on the certification of water and wastewater utility acquisitions, mergers and transfers. 

A public utility must obtain a certificate of public convenience from the Commission in order to offer, render, furnish, or supply public utility service in Pennsylvania.

The Commission is inviting comments on these specific topics--

-- How might the Commission simplify the requirements of Section 3.501 for well-established utilities without hindering the traditional policy goals of Section 3.501 and 3.502?

-- What are the expected benefits of reducing requirements applicable to existing utilities? How would those benefits be passed on to ratepayers?

-- What, if any, issues arise from allowing existing utilities the option to meet the requirement of 3.501(a)(1)(ii)(A) following the completion of an original cost study after the transaction has closed, in lieu of submitting this information with an application?

-- What alternative documentation could be provided as evidence an application complies with the following subsections of Section 3.501

-- What are the potential costs and benefits to the addition of a requirement to Section 3.501(a)(6) requiring the applicant to provide a copy of any DEP-approved Sewage Facilities Planning Modules and/or the current Act 537 Official Sewage Facilities Plan, if applicable? -- What alternative documentation could be provided to show that an application complies with Act 537 and what are the costs and benefits of these alternatives?

-- What alternative documentation could be provided by wastewater utilities in an application which assures compliance with the requirements of Section 5 of the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act (35 P.S. § 750.5) and what are the costs and benefits of these alternatives?

-- Should Section 3.501(a)(6) be revised to include providing evidence of DEP Chapter 105 Permits for water systems that have or will have impoundments with dams or reservoirs in accordance with DEP regulations in 25 Pa. Code § 105?

-- What alternative documentation could be provided by applicants to satisfy the present requirements of Section 3.501(a)(7) and what are the costs and benefits of these alternatives?

-- Should Section 3.501(d) be revised to use a less than 60-day protest period for an application either in limited circumstances or in all circumstances?

-- Should Section 3.501(d) be revised to require publication of the notice of an application once a week for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation located in the territory covered by the application, rather than the requirement in Section 3.501(d) to publish daily for two consecutive weeks?

-- Should applicants be required to provide evidence that anticipated subdivisions and land developments to be served by the utility in the requested service territory have been granted preliminary and final plan municipal approval?

-- Parties should discuss the extent to which Section 3.501 should apply to applications filed pursuant to Section 1329 of the Public Utility Code, 66 Pa.C.S. § 1329, and the Commission's Section 1329 Application Filing Checklist, and what changes to Section 3.501 might be made in order to better comport with 66 Pa.C.S. § 1329.

-- Parties should discuss whether applicants should follow additional processes and procedures regarding property owners that would be required to connect to an applicant's system upon application approval but which have not requested service from the utility, including, but not limited to, property owners located in municipalities which have adopted a mandatory connection ordinance.

-- Parties should discuss if an acquiring utility should identify the existence of lead service lines (LSLs) or damaged wastewater service laterals (DWSLs) and the projected costs to remove LSLs or replace DWSLs within the territory to be acquired.

-- Parties should propose any changes to Section 3.502 they deem relevant.

Public comments are due 60 days from the date of publication in the PA Bulletin.

Written comments should be submitted to Docket No. L-2020-3017232 via the Commission's e-File System or in writing.  (Read the entire PA Bulletin notice for more instructions.)

Questions about this advanced notice of proposed rulemaking should be directed to Assistant Counsel Christian McDewell, 717-787-7466,, and Supervisor, Water/Wastewater, Bureau of Technical Utility Services, Sean Donnelly, 717-783-2505,

[Posted: May 15, 2020]


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