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PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION (PA PUC)


The PA PUC Approves Total Resource Cost Test for Potential Phase IV of Act 129


On December 19, 2019, the PA PUC issued a final order approving refinements to the 2021 Total Resource Cost (“TRC”) Test used to analyze the benefits and costs of the energy efficiency and conservation (“EE&C”) plans that the Commonwealth’s large investor-owned utilities are required to file pursuant to Act 129 of 2008, 66 Pa. C.S. § 2806.1. Since enactment of Act 129, the PA PUC has overseen the implementation of three phases of mandated energy efficiency and demand reduction targets that affected utilities must meet. In current Docket M‑2019-3006866, the PA PUC is evaluating whether to implement Phase IV of Act 129, which would be five years in duration beginning June 1, 2021 if approved. The 2021 TRC Test would apply to Phase IV. The Statewide Evaluator (SWE) retained by the PA PUC to assist in Act 129 planning and implementation is expected to release an energy efficiency and demand response potential study in February and a tentative implementation order for Phase IV issued by the PA PUC is expected this Spring.


The final order is at: http://www.puc.state.pa.us/pcdocs/1648126.docx



PA PUC Chair Dutrieuille Testifies on Net Neutrality Bills


On January 9, 2020, PA PUC Chair Gladys Brown Dutrieuille testified before the Pennsylvania Joint Senate & House Democratic Committee regarding legislative bills, in particular SB 393, which address Internet neutrality (“Net Neutrality”). SB 393, if enacted as currently drafted, would add a new Chapter 30A and subject to public utility regulation those persons or corporations “with the ability to connect to the Internet through equipment” located in the Commonwealth, and would apply to broadband Internet access service (“BIAS”) delivered by “wire or radio.” BIAS is defined as “the capability to transmit data to and receive data from all or substantially all Internet endpoints.” The bill would, among other provisions, prohibit practices that block access to, impair or degrade, give preferential treatment to or unreasonably interfere with access to lawful Internet content, applications and services and device connectivity to BIAS. The PA PUC would be given authority to promulgate rules and regulations to implement the new chapter’s provisions.


The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit recently gave key support for the Commonwealth’s (and other states’) actions to implement Net Neutrality in its decision and order in Mozilla v FCC, 940 F.3d 1 (October 1, 2019). The Court reluctantly upheld FCC’s discretion to once again classify broadband as an “information service” under Title I of the Communications Act as amended (thus, not a “common carrier” service subject to utility-type regulation under Title II of the Act). Significantly however the Court did not agree with the FCC that it has the authority for blanket preemption of state initiatives to implement Net Neutrality. Petitions for rehearing of the decision have been filed with the DC Circuit and may eventually be before the Supreme Court.


Chair Dutrieuille’s testimony may be found at:

http://www.puc.pa.gov/General/pdf/Testimony/BrownDutrieuille-HS_Dem_Comm-NetNeutrality010920.pdf


The DC Circuit’s decision and order may be found at:

https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-360042A1.pdf

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