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NEWS
July 24, 2014 | By Paul Nussbaum, Inquirer Staff Writer
"Ride-share" car services such as UberX and Lyft are transforming the taxi business in Philadelphia, and they don't even operate here. Yet. The San Francisco-based ride-share companies connect people looking for a ride with private car owners looking for extra money. Their phone apps allow riders to summon a car, pay for the service, and get a receipt, all electronically. Following a foray into Pittsburgh, where they were welcomed by the mayor and the county executive but banned by state regulators, Philadelphia is a likely target this year, industry insiders say. Philadelphia is the only major Northeastern city where Lyft and UberX have not brought their "disruptive" business model of launching first and seeking permission later.
BUSINESS
June 27, 2014 | By Jeff Gelles, Inquirer Columnist
When the ride-sharing evangelists of Uber and Lyft square off Thursday in Pittsburgh against staff from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, will it be the latest act in that timeworn drama, New Technology vs. the Old Regulatory State ? Or are officials raising timely alarms about real risks? So far, I'm not convinced either way. Both services have operated for months in Pittsburgh in defiance of state regulators. Since this drama's next act could play out here, it's a good time to see how it's unfolding.
BUSINESS
June 12, 2014 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
An array of critics has challenged Sunoco Pipeline L.P.'s attempt to win crucial public utility status for its embattled Mariner East pipeline by recasting the local benefits of the project. Several advocacy groups filed objections with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission before Monday's deadline, calling on the PUC to reject Sunoco's application to declare its cross-state pipeline a public utility, which would allow it to bypass local zoning controls. Sunoco is repurposing an 83-year-old refined-products pipeline to transport Marcellus Shale natural-gas liquids to Marcus Hook, where most of the material - ethane and propane - would be exported.
BUSINESS
May 21, 2014 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
Too many customers received mixed messages, contradictory messages - or no message at all - from their electric utilities during the massive February ice storm, according to state regulators. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Monday documented shortcomings in the way Peco Energy Co. and other electric utilities communicated with customers during the storm, which knocked out 960,000 customers, including 724,000 Peco customers. While generally commending the utilities' response, the PUC made 11 recommendations - mostly regarding outreach with customers and local governments.
BUSINESS
May 1, 2014 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
Sunoco Pipeline L.P. said Tuesday that it was switching strategies in its effort to move Marcellus Shale products to Marcus Hook and avoid local zoning hurdles. The company said it was withdrawing an application for a controversial pumping station in Chester County on its cross-state pipeline called Mariner East. Instead, Sunoco is concentrating on getting the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to rule that it is a public utility corporation and therefore exempt from cumbersome local zoning.
BUSINESS
April 25, 2014 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Wednesday delayed ordering an investigation of FirstEnergy Solutions' polar vortex surcharge on its fixed-rate customers. The PUC removed a question from its agenda to initiate an investigation of the supplier's one-time charge of $5 to $15 on its fixed-rate customers. FirstEnergy called it a "pass-through" charge to offset some of the extra charges imposed on it in January by regional grid operator PJM Interconnection Inc. The company is one of the region's largest competitive energy suppliers.
BUSINESS
April 24, 2014 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission will hold a hearing May 5 at Drexel University on the use of combined heat and power (CHP), a high-efficiency method of generating electricity and thermal energy from a single fuel source. CHP systems, which are used by businesses like hotels, universities and hospitals, generate about 2,638 megawatts or 7.2 percent of Pennsylvania's total electricity. The PUC says the technical potential for additional systems could quadruple that production.
NEWS
April 14, 2014 | BY JENNY DeHUFF, Daily News Staff Writer dehuffj@phillynews.com, 215-854-5218
A WHOLE LOTTA fuss over nothing - that's what Mayor Nutter is calling reaction to a memo sent by City Council President Darrell Clarke to all Council members Wednesday, which prompted Council to stall a bill advancing the sale of PGW. Nutter wants to get the ball rolling, but Clarke's memo raised questions about whether the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission's review process of the proposed sale of PGW to UIL Holdings Corp. would give Council enough time to have its say. Nutter said that even a favorable decision from the commission would be meaningless without Council's approval of the sale ordinance.
BUSINESS
April 5, 2014 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Thursday approved new rules to address the public outrage that has erupted over unprecedented winter price spikes. The rule changes, introduced less than three weeks ago, will force competitive energy suppliers to more clearly disclose the details of their offers, especially the risks of variable-rate deals that have generated the most complaints. Another rule change will allow customers to switch energy suppliers in days rather than weeks, allowing customers to exit a bad deal more quickly.
BUSINESS
April 4, 2014 | By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
Two competitive electrical suppliers account for more than half of the 5,732 complaints over soaring power bills that Pennsylvania regulators have received in the last two months, according to data released Wednesday. IDT Energy Inc. and Pennsylvania Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E), which offer variable-rate electricity deals to residential customers, were the targets of 52 percent of the complaints filed this year, according to the Public Utility Commission. A total of 66 suppliers were listed.
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