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BUSINESS
December 5, 2015 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
A retail electricity supplier that said it faced a choice between financial suicide or dishonoring its promises to customers has been ordered to pay $3.8 million in penalties for breaking its word during last year's polar vortex. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Thursday ordered Hiko Energy L.L.C. of Monsey, N.Y., to pay $1.8 million in civil fines for doubling and even tripling the rates of customers it had promised would pay less for power than their local utility's standard rate.
NEWS
November 21, 2015 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Thursday approved a $124 million increase in PPL Electric Utilities rates, about 26 percent less than the company's request for $167.5 million. A typical monthly bill for a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours will increase by $7.53 when the new rates go into effect on Jan. 1. Under a settlement with the PUC and ratepayer advocates, PPL withdrew its request to increase its fixed customer fee from $14.09 a month to a daily fee that would amount to about $20 a month.
NEWS
October 24, 2015 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Thursday approved Peco Energy Co.'s $274 million five-year electrical system infrastructure improvement plan, which includes funds to make the system more resilient to storms. The commission's vote establishes a distribution system improvement charge to pay for improvements, though company spokesman Ben Armstrong said the fee initially is set at zero. Peco would need PUC approval to assess a monthly customer bill charge. In addition, Peco's plan also includes a proposal to spend $50 million to $100 million to construct one or more microgrids, which are localized grids that can disconnect from the traditional power system to operate autonomously.
BUSINESS
October 3, 2015 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
State regulators on Thursday approved a measure to reduce the cost for new customers to hook up to Peco Energy Co.'s gas mains, increasing the incentive for homeowners to convert to natural gas. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission endorsed a Peco pilot project to finance gas-main extensions to unserved neighborhoods. Typically, the costs are so steep that few customers can afford the up-front payment. The PUC also approved a measure that would reduce or eliminate the up-front cost for thousands of customers who live along existing gas mains to connect.
BUSINESS
October 2, 2015 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Pennsylvania Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved the appointment of Andrew Place, corporate director for energy and environmental policy at EQT Corp., to serve a five-year term on the Public Utility Commission. Place, 54, was a deputy in the Department of Environmental Protection. The Greene County resident was previously a research fellow at Carnegie Mellon University's Department of Engineering and Public Policy, with a primary focus on carbon capture and sequestration.
BUSINESS
September 12, 2015 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
Peco Energy Co. has reached a settlement on a proposed electric-rate increase that will boost income by $127 million a year, about a third less than the Philadelphia utility initially sought. The proposed increase, Peco's first in five years, would increase the company's distribution revenue by 10.9 percent. Peco said monthly bills for its 1.6 million customers will increase by less than 4 percent. The settlement, negotiated with staff of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and advocates for various customer classes, will require the formal approval of the PUC before it goes into effect on Jan. 1. It was filed Thursday with the commission.
BUSINESS
July 5, 2015 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
A small number of electricity suppliers are employing a new trick to make their rates appear more competitive: They're tacking on a monthly fee in addition to the kilowatt-hour rate. A monthly fee skews the calculus when trying to compare suppliers based on kWh rates, the so-called price to compare. When evaluating suppliers, you need to be sure you're basing your decision not just on the price to compare, but also on the total monthly charge. Only five of 47 suppliers listed for Peco customers on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission's website (papowerswitch.com)
BUSINESS
June 5, 2015 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission will hold five public hearings in the next week about Peco Energy Co.'s proposed $190 million electric rate increase. Hearings for customers to give input will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at Bucks County Community College, Penn Hall 259, 275 Swamp Road, Newtown; 10 a.m. Tuesday, at the Philadelphia Central Library, 1901 Vine St., Philadelphia; 7 p.m. Tuesday, at the Army National Guard Armory, 2700 Southampton Road, Philadelphia; 7 p.m. Wednesday, Worcester Township Community Hall, 1031 Valley Forge Road, Norristown; and 7 p.m. Monday, June 15, in the Water's Edge Banquet Room, 500 North Lane, Ridley Park.
BUSINESS
May 9, 2015 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
Pennsylvania's Public Utility Commission is getting a new leader to reflect the change of political parties in the governor's mansion, though the commission's composition is unchanged. Democratic Gov. Wolf has named Gladys M. Brown as the PUC's chairwoman, replacing Robert F. Powelson, a Republican from Kennett Square, who had headed the five-member commission since 2011. The changeover occurred cordially at the end of Thursday's PUC meeting, at which Powelson invited Brown to gavel the session to a close.
NEWS
April 25, 2015 | By Paul Nussbaum, Inquirer Staff Writer
Drivers for Uber, the electronic ride-hailing service, will be permitted to use older vehicles, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission ruled Thursday. Uber drivers will be able to use vehicles that are up to 10 years old, with fewer than 350,000 miles. But they must wait until new PUC regulations are approved by the state Independent Regulatory Review Commission and published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, which could be June. Lyft, a competing service that also offers rides in private cars, won a similar ruling from the PUC in March.
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