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PaPUC Proposes Change to Age Requirement for Drivers of Paratransit Vehicles

puc_sealJuly 12, 2017, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) proposed a change to the age requirement for drivers of paratransit vehicles, in order to more closely match current guidelines from the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) and reduce operational and hiring challenges for ambulance and paratransit companies across the state.

The Proposed Rulemaking Order was approved 5-0 by the Commission on July 12, allowing paratransit vehicles to be operated by trained and certified ambulance drivers who are 18 years or older – initiating a written comment period and review by relevant agencies.

Currently, PUC regulations for paratransit services require drivers to be at least 21 years old, while DOH rules allow drivers 18 years or older to operate ambulances if they have proper training and certification. In proposing the change in PUC regulations, the Commissioners noted that many of the state’s ambulance companies also provide paratransit services, and the differences in age requirements currently prevent some trained ambulance drivers from being able to operate paratransit vehicles – complicating operations for those organizations.

The proposed change established the following conditions for paratransit drivers who are under the age of 21:

  • Drivers 18 years or older must be certified as an Emergency Medical Service Vehicle Operator (EMSVO) by the DOH.
  • Drivers must carry their DOH-issued EMSVO certification on board, while operating a paratransit vehicle.
  • Paratransit carriers must comply with all DOH regulations and maintain records for a period of four years to prove each person’s EMSVO certification.
  • These records must be available for inspection by Commission Staff, upon request.
  • Paratransit carriers must notify the PUC of any accident involving a paratransit driver who is under 21 years of age, regardless of the severity of the accident.

The Proposed Rulemaking Order will be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and written comments should be submitted within 30 days of that publication. All comments must reference Docket No. L-2017-2600599.

To learn how Prince Law Offices, P.C. can assist you or your business with transportation law and PUC matters, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices, P.C.

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Central PA Residents & Businesses Switching to 10-Digit Dialing in ‘717’ Area Code in August

puc_sealThe Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today reminded residents and businesses across Central Pennsylvania served by the 717 area code of the upcoming switch to 10-digit dialing for all local calls – in preparation for the activation of a new “overlay” area code, which will serve the entire region.

According to the implementation schedule for the “223” overlay area code, mandatory 10-digit dialing for all local calls will begin on Aug. 26, 2017. Starting on that date, if callers only dial a seven-digit number, they will reach a recorded announcement instructing them to hang up and redial the number using the area code plus the seven-digit number.

For the past several months, telephone callers in the 16-county 717 service area have been encouraged to voluntarily use 10-digit dialing (717 + the full local telephone number). The new 223 overlay area was approved based on forecasts that the remaining supply of available telephone numbers in the 717 area code was close to exhaustion.

According to Neustar, Inc., the neutral third party area code relief planner for Pennsylvania, the dialing plan for the 717/223 area code is as follows:

  • Local & Toll calls from the 717/223 area to other numbers inside the 717/223 area:
    Dial 10-digits (717 or 223 + XXX-XXXX)
  • Local & Toll Calls from the 717/223 area to numbers in another area code:
    Dial 1 + 10-Digits (1 + XXX-XXX-XXXX)
  • Operator Services (Credit card, collect, third party):
    Dial 0 + 10-digit (0 + XXX-XXX-XXXX)

The PUC’s Order approving the overlay plan specifies that any new numbers for the 223 overlay area code shall not be released until Sept. 26, 2017, and that requests for numbers in the 717 area code will continue to be honored as long as resources are available.

To learn how Prince Law Offices, P.C. can assist you or your business with telecommunications law and PUC matters, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices, P.C.

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PA Gas Drilling Impact Fees Total Distribution Tops $1 Billion

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today (June 15, 2017) posted detailed information about this year’s distribution of Impact Fees on natural gas producers, totaling $173,258,900, on the PUC’s interactive Act 13 website.puc_seal

Over the past six years, the PUC has collected and distributed more than $1.2 billion in Impact Fees to communities across Pennsylvania.

County and municipal governments directly affected by drilling will receive a total of $93,128,340 for the 2016 disbursement year. Additionally, $62,085,600 will be placed into the Marcellus Legacy Fund, which provides financial support for environmental, highway, water and sewer projects, rehabilitation of greenways and other projects throughout the state. Also, $18 million will be distributed to state agencies specified by the Act.

To learn how Prince Law Offices, P.C. can assist you or your business with energy law and PUC matters, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices, P.C.

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Are You Starting the Next “Uber”?

puc_sealAs part of an ongoing effort to address changes in the transportation industry, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today encouraged concerned parties to submit comments regarding proposed changes to the Commission’s regulations governing the motor carrier industry.

The comments submitted in response to the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will be used in the PUC’s reexamination of motor carrier regulations, including businesses that transport passengers, property and household goods – as part of an effort to ensure that the transportation industry in Pennsylvania operates safely and also continues to innovate. In recent years, the oversight of these industries has evolved, in response to changes in federal law as well as market forces.

Possible topics for comment include:

  • The regulation of property carriers.
  • The regulation of group and party carriers.
  • Insurance requirements.
  • Safety requirements.
  • Fuel surcharges.
  • Fines and assessments.
  • The granting of provisional authority.
  • Web-based training for new and current carriers.
  • Various Commission General Orders, Policy Statements and guidelines for transportation utilities.
  • Any other specific considerations.

 

The comments should be submitted within 60 days of the publication of the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

Comments should include references to sections of the Commission’s current regulations. They should also provide a rationale for the proposed change and include specific proposed language for changes to the regulations.  Reference Docket No. L-2017-2604692. Rulemaking for Title 52 – Regulation of Motor Carriers of Passengers and Property.

Previously, the Commission approved updated regulations intended to reduce barriers for passenger carriers and moving companies.

To learn how Prince Law Offices, P.C. can assist you or your business with energy, real estate, transportation or other PUC matters including preparation and filing of comments, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices, P.C.

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PUC Announces Appointments to Consumer Advisory Council

puc_sealThe Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today announced a series of appointments to its Consumer Advisory Council (CAC), which provides input to the PUC on issues important to utility customers. Members of the CAC will serve two-year terms, from July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2019.  Included are several representatives from our area.  Congratulations all!

New CAC members include:

 

  • Sonny Popowsky, former Pennsylvania Consumer Advocate (serving from 1990 to 2012), brings an extensive state and national background in consumer and utility issues. Popowsky, of Philadelphia, was appointed to the CAC by Gov. Tom Wolf.
  • Christopher M. Winters Sr., of Wernersville, Berks County, has experience in legislative affairs, constituent services, research and public relations. Winters was appointed by Rep. Thomas R. Caltagirone, Minority Chairman of the House Consumer Affairs Committee.

Additionally, the Commission ratified the reappointment of the following CAC members:

  • Troy T. Geanopulos, founder of several energy efficiency companies over the past 20 years, is currently the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Efficiency Network (TEN), a tech-enabled provider of building efficiency services headquartered in Pittsburgh. Geanopulos was reappointed by Lt. Gov. Mike Stack.
  • Ralph G. Douglass, of Bensalem, Bucks County, was reappointed by Sen. Robert M. Tomlinson (R-Bucks), the Majority Chairman of the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee. Douglass is semi-retired from service as President of PECA Inc., an electronics design and manufacturing firm. Douglass current serves as chairman of the CAC.
  • Javier R. Toro, of Fountain Hill, Lehigh County, was appointed by Sen. Lisa M. Boscola (D-Lehigh), the Minority Chair of the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee. He is a Customer Care Supervisor for the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, and also is responsible for weatherization.
  • George J. Silvestri Jr., of Souderton, Montgomery County, was reappointed by Rep. Robert W. Godshall (R-Montgomery), the Majority Chairman of the House Consumer Affairs Committee. Silvestri is an author and a retired engineer in the Power Generation Division of the Westinghouse Electric Corp.

The PUC also reappointed the following at-large members of the CAC:

  • Lillian Carpenter, a retired educator from Pittsburgh, a former member of the Pittsburgh Board of Education, and a member of the Board of Directors for the Pittsburgh Homeless Children’s Education Fund.
  • Patrick M. Cicero, Director of the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project (PULP), a statewide legal aid office, based on Harrisburg, that serves low-income households in utility and energy matters. He is a resident of Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County.
  • Timothy B. Hennessey is a licensed insurance agent with Advantage Insurance in Pottstown, Montgomery County, and owner of Phoenix Festival Productions, an event-planning company in North Coventry Township, Chester County.  Hennessey currently serves as vice chairman of the CAC.
  • Chad Quinn, of Lawrence County, is Chief Executive Officer of Pittsburgh-based Dollar Energy Fund, which works to improve the quality of life for households experiencing hardships by providing utility assistance and other services that lead to self-sufficiency.
  • Dr. Tina M. Serafini, a professor, curriculum designer/consultant and trainer for T.M. Serafini & Associates LLC, and a resident of Clearfield.
  • Joseph E. Toner III, Chairman of the Uwclan Township Board of Supervisors and President of the Chester County Association of Township Officials.

The Consumer Advisory Council advises the PUC Commissioners on matters related to the protection of consumer interests under the jurisdiction of the PUC. Council meetings are held bimonthly and are open to the public. Members serve without compensation.

Prince Law Offices, P.C. thanks each member for your service.  To learn how Prince Law Offices, P.C. can assist you or your business with energy, real estate, or PUC matters including representation in rate cases, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices, P.C.

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Price Changes for Electric Generation; Save Money by Comparing Plans on PAPowerSwitch.com

puc_sealThe Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) on May 31, 2017 alerted consumers that on June 1 most electric utilities adjusted electric generation prices charged to non-shopping, or default service, customers.

“The upcoming price changes, combined with the increase use of electricity that we typically see during the long, hot days of summer, makes this a very good time for consumers to evaluate their energy options,” said PUC Chairman Gladys M. Brown. “We encourage consumers to carefully review their electric bills, understand the rates they will be paying and explore the PUC’s official electric shopping website, PAPowerSwitch.com, for details on competitive offers, along with tips for energy conservation and savings.”

In most areas of Pennsylvania, consumers can choose who supplies their electricity, based on lowest price or other factors, such as renewable energy.

Customers not choosing a competitive electric generation supplier (EGS) continue to receive default service from the utility, with the cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) billed as a pass-through cost to the customer based on wholesale market prices.  By law, the utility cannot make a profit on electric generation, and the PUC does not control the price of the generation portion of the electric bill.

PAPowerSwitch.com, the PUC’s website for electric choice, provides consumers with valuable information on the shopping process.

As of June 1, electric distribution companies with more notable changes in their PTCs include:

  • PPL Electric, with an estimated increase from 7.439 cents to 8.493 cents per kWh, a 14.2 percent increase;
  • Penn Power, with an estimated increase from 5.884 cents to 6.674 cents per kWh, a 13.4 percent increase;
  • West Penn Power, with an estimated increase from 5.975 cents to 6.602 cents per kWh, a 10.5 percent increase;
  • Wellsboro Electric, with an estimated increase from 6.931cents to 8.192 cents per kWh, an 18.2 percent increase;
  • Met-Ed, with an estimated decrease from 6.964 cents to 6.018 cents per kWh, a 13.6 percent decrease; and
  • Citizens’ Electric, with an estimated decrease from 8.16 cents to 6.64 cents per kWh, an 18.6 percent decrease.

Other electric utilities, including Duquesne Light, PECO and Penelec, will see only a slight change in their respective PTCs, though the Commission still encourages customers to explore their options in those service areas.

Chairman Brown noted that when generation prices change, consumers often see an increase in supplier offers being promoted via door-to-door sales in neighborhoods, over the phone, through the mail or online.  She encouraged consumers to thoroughly review their options and understand all terms and conditions before entering into any supplier contract.

 

To learn how Prince Law Offices, P.C. can assist you or your business with real estate, business, FERC, or PUC matters, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices, P.C.

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Pennsylvania’s Powelson to Join FERC from PaPUC

FERC

President Donald J. Trump announced May 8, 2017 his intent to nominate the following individuals to key positions in his Administration:

Neil Chatterjee of Kentucky to be a Member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the term expiring June 30, 2021. Mr. Chatterjee is energy policy advisor to United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Over the years he has played an integral role in the passage of major energy, highway, and farm legislation. Prior to serving Leader McConnell, he worked as a Principal in Government Relations for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and as an aide to House Republican Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce of Ohio. He began his career in Washington, DC, with the House Committee on Ways and Means. A Lexington, Kentucky native, he is a graduate of St. Lawrence University and the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

powelsonRobert F. Powelson of Pennsylvania to be a Member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the term expiring June 30, 2020. Commissioner Powelson has served as a Commissioner on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) since 2008. Commissioner Powelson was first nominated to the PUC on June 19, 2008, by Governor Edward G. Rendell and appointed Chairman by Governor Tom Corbett in 2011. Currently, Commissioner Powelson serves as the President of National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) based in Washington, DC. Commissioner Powelson serves on the Electric Power Research Institute Advisory Board (EPRI) as well as the Drexel University Board of Trustees. From 1994 to 2008, Powelson served as the President and CEO of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry based in Malvern, PA. In 2005, he was selected by the Eisenhower Presidential Fellow to be a United States fellow in Singapore and Australia. Commissioner Powelson holds a Bachelor of Administration from St. Joseph’s University and a Master of Governmental Administration with a concentration in public finance from the University of Pennsylvania.

Prince Law Offices, P.C. congratulates Commissioner Powelson.  To learn how Prince Law Offices, P.C. can assist you or your business with real estate, business, FERC, or PUC matters, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices, P.C.

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