§ 53.45. Notice of new tariffs and tariff changes.
(a) Thirty days prior to the filing of a new tariff, tariff supplement or tariff revision that constitutes a general rate increase within the meaning of 66 Pa.C.S. § 1308(d) (relating to voluntary changes in rates) and that is anticipated to exceed $1 million, a public utility shall file with the Secretary a written notice informing the Commission of the utilitys anticipated filing of a general rate increase and, to the extent available, an estimate of the overall amount of the anticipated general rate increase. This notice shall be deemed proprietary and confidential. Copies of this notice shall be served on the Office of Consumer Advocate and the Office of the Small Business Advocate, so long as these offices observe the proprietary nature of the notice.
(b) Upon the filing of a new tariff, tariff supplement or tariff revision that constitutes a general rate increase within the meaning of 66 Pa.C.S. § 1308(d), notice shall be given to the public by each of the following methods:
(1) By posting in offices. A public utility shall post a notice at least 15 by 20 inches in size in a conspicuous place in each company office at which payments are accepted.
(i) The notice shall read as follows, with the blanks appropriately completed: NOTICE OF PROPOSED RATE CHANGES
To Our Customers:
(company) is filing a request with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to increase your (type of service) rates as of (date). This notice describes the companys rate request, the PUCs role, and what actions you can take.
(company) has requested an overall rate increase of $
per year. If the companys entire request is approved, the total bill for a residential customer using (state typical usage level) would increase from $
per month or by
The total bill for a commercial customer using (state typical usage level) would increase from $
per month or by
Rates for an industrial customer using (state typical usage level) would increase from $
per month or by
To find out your customer class or how the requested increase may affect your (type of service) bill, contact (company) at (toll free phone number). The rates requested by the company may be found in (tariff number). You may examine the material filed with the PUC which explains the requested increase and the reasons for it. A copy of this material is kept at (companys) office. (For companies with annual revenues of more than $10 Million, ADD: Upon request, the company will send you the Statement of Reasons for (tariff number), explaining why the rate increase has been requested.)
The state agency which approves rates for public utilities is the PUC. The PUC will examine the requested rate increase and can prevent existing rates from changing until it investigates and/or holds hearings on the request. The company must prove that the requested rates are reasonable. After examining the evidence, the PUC may grant all, some, or none of the request or may reduce existing rates.
The PUC may change the amount of the rate increase or decrease requested by the utility for each customer class. As a result, the rate charged to you may be different than the rate requested by the company and shown above.
There are three ways to challenge a companys request to change its rates:
1. You can file a formal complaint. If you want a hearing before a judge, you must file a formal complaint. By filing a formal complaint, you assure yourself the opportunity to take part in hearings about the rate increase request. All complaints should be filed with the PUC before (proposed effective date of the rate increase). If no formal complaints are filed, the Commission may grant all, some or none of the request without holding a hearing before a judge.
2. You can send us a letter telling why you object to the requested rate increase. Sometimes there is information in these letters that makes us aware of problems with the companys service or management. This information can be helpful when we investigate the rate request.
Send your letter or request for a formal complaint form to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, Post Office Box 3265, Harrisburg, PA 17105-3265.
3. You can be a witness at a public input hearing. Public input hearings are held if the Commission opens an investigation of the companys rate increase request and if there is a large number of customers interested in the case. At these hearings you have the opportunity to present your views in person to the PUC judge hearing the case and the company representatives. All testimony given under oath becomes part of the official rate case record. These hearings are held in the service area of the company.
(When PUC Voice Processing System becomes available, ADD:)
For more information, call the PUC at 1-800-XXX-XXXX. You may leave your name and address so you can be notified of any public input hearings that may be scheduled in this case.
(ii) The notice shall be posted for at least 60 days before the proposed general rate increase becomes effective, and is in addition to the notices prescribed in § § 53.42 and 53.43 (relating to notice of the public file; and maintenance and availability of the public file). For the purposes of posting only, the public utility may shorten the specified customer notice language to fit legibly on the minimum required size of the posters, provided that the shortened customer notice language contains, at a minimum, information describing the amount of the proposed annual increase, the proposed effective date, the percentage of the increase to a typical residential, commercial and industrial customers total bill and a statement that customers may contact the company at a toll free telephone number to get additional information on the proposed increase or to find out what actions they may take.
(2) By written or printed notice. A public utility shall notify its customers by a written or printed notice. The written or printed notice shall be mailed at least 61 days or hand delivered at least 60 days prior to the proposed effective date of the tariff, tariff supplement or tariff revision. The text of the written or printed notice shall be the same as the notice language specified in paragraph (1).
(3) By news release. On the date the rate increase is filed, a public utility shall distribute news releases containing a description of the proposed rate changes to the major newspapers, radio and television stations serving the public utilitys area. The news release shall contain, at a minimum, information describing the amount of the proposed increase, the proposed effective date, the percentage of the increase to the companys annual revenues, the dollar increase to a typical residential, commercial and industrial customers total bill and a statement that customers may contact the company at a toll free telephone number to get further information on the proposed increase or to find out what actions they may take.
(4) Alternative method. In lieu of the method described in paragraph (2), a public utility on a 1-month billing cycle filing a proposed general rate increase may notify its customers by means of a bill insert.
(i) The text of the bill insert shall be printed on distinctive color paper and shall contain the exact notice language specified in paragraph (1).
(ii) The bill insert shall be included with customer bills beginning no later than the day the tariff, tariff supplement or tariff revision containing the rate increase is filed.
(iii) There may be no sales, marketing or promotional type literature included in a customer bill that contains the customer notice of proposed rate increase.
(iv) The billing envelopes front side, in conspicuous type, shall call attention to the fact that rate increase information is contained in that months mailing.
(v) The bill insert shall continue each billing day until the 1-month billing cycle is completed and all customers have been notified.
(vi) Due to the longer time frame of this method of notification, a public utility that elects to use bill inserts shall agree to extend from 60 to 90 days the minimum period within which the filing of a complaint places the burden of proof upon the company with respect to proposed rates.
(vii) On the date the rate increase is filed, notice by bill insert shall be supplemented by paid newspaper advertisements published in the major newspapers serving the public utilitys service area containing a description of the proposed rate changes.
(viii) A public utility that elects to use this alternative method of customer notification shall advise the Commission of this election in writing at the time the rate increase is filed.
(c) A utility shall provide customer notice consistent with the language in subsection (b)(1)(i) to persons who move into that utilitys service territory and become customers during the pendency of a rate increase request. Customer notice shall be provided to new customers at the time they complete an application for service.
(d) A utility shall provide customer notice consistent with the language provided in subsection (b)(1)(i) to customers to be acquired from another entity as a result of a transfer application filed under 66 Pa.C.S. § 1102(3) (relating to enumeration of acts requiring certificate), if new rates resulting from the utilitys rate increase request are to apply to the transferred customers. Customer notice shall be provided to transfer customers at the time the transfer application is filed with the Commission.
(e) The customer notice requirements in subsection (b) are not applicable to interexchange carriers.
(f) Upon Commission approval of the final filing of an energy cost rate adjustment (ECR) under 66 Pa.C.S. § 1307 (relating to sliding scale of rates; adjustments), notice shall be given to the public by both of the following methods:
(1) By bill insert. A public utility that filed an ECR adjustment in final form shall notify its customers by a bill insert after the adjustment is approved by the Commission. The bill insert shall be sent as soon after the Commission action as practicable. The notice shall contain, at a minimum, information describing the adjustment and time frame for reconciliation hearings, the effect of the approved increase or decrease on a typical residential, commercial and industrial customers bill and a statement that customers may contact the company at a given telephone number to get further information on the adjustment or to find out what actions they may take.
(2) By news release. On the date the ECR adjustment is officially approved by the Commission, a public utility shall distribute news releases containing a description of the ECR adjustment to the major newspapers, radio and television stations serving the public utilitys area. The news release shall contain, at a minimum, the information specified in paragraph (1).
(g) For other proposed changes in rates, rules and regulations, including nongeneral rate increases, proposed changes in regulationswithout rate changesand proposed rate changes under 66 Pa.C.S. § 1307(f), public notice of the proposed changes shall be given in the manner directed by the Commission.
(h) Upon completion of the notice requirements of this section, a public utility shall file an affidavit with the Commission confirming that the notice requirements have been met.
The provisions of this § 53.45 amended under the Public Utility Code, 66 Pa.C.S. § § 501, 504, 1307 and 1308.
The provisions of this § 53.45 amended through January 14, 1977, effective January 15, 1977, 7 Pa.B. 148; amended November 20, 1987, effective December 21, 1987, 17 Pa.B. 4727; amended June 17, 1994, effective June 18, 1994, 24 Pa.B. 3028. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (169467) to (169469).
Notes of Decisions
Publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin of a rate change is not adequate to satisfy the requirements of due process; the public utility must post notice in company offices; issue news releases on date the increase is filed; and mail or hand deliver a written or printed notice to each ratepayer. Barasch v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, 546 A.2d 1296 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1988); appeal denied 567 A.2d 655 (Pa. 1989).
This section cited in 52 Pa. Code § 53.54 (relating to small water utilities); 52 Pa. Code § 53.68 (relating to notice requirements); 52 Pa. Code § 53.94 (relating to posting of tariffs); and 52 Pa. Code § 54.98 (relating to customer notice requirements).
INFORMATION FURNISHED WITH THE FILING
OF RATE CHANGES
The provisions of these § § 53.5153.55 issued under the Public Utility Code, 66 Pa.C.S. § § 315, 501, 505, 1301, 1302, 1308, 1311 and 1312, unless otherwise noted.
The provisions of these § § 53.5153.55 amended September 2, 1977, effective September 3, 1977, 7 Pa.B. 2527, unless otherwise noted.
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