A Review of Utility Benchmark Cases August 2013-2014. Margaret A. Morris, Esquire. Margarita Kron v. PGW PM 8/29/13 F-2012-2332152.
Margaret A. Morris, Esquire
Complainant, landlord, requested that her service be discontinued on May 4, 2010. PGW chose to utilize a placeholder account for the “user without a contract.” Bill accumulated to $3,666. PGW asserts the Complainant is liable for usage.
ALJ Cheskis found PGW’s action unreasonable. The Complainant properly requested discontinuance of service but PGW chose not to shut off the gas but rather used a “placeholder account until a new customer of record applied for gas service.” The Complainant’s tenant resided in the apartment but never put service in their name.
Complainant disputes responsibility for charges as a result of her tenant’s not timely establishing service. PGW asserts Complainant is a PA corporation and must be represented by counsel.
ALJ Pell issued a Prehearing Order requiring the Complainant to engage counsel and have the appearance filed with the PUC. The Complainant did not; Complaint was dismissed.
Complainant alleges unspecified incorrect charges on her bill. PGW filed a PO alleging that the Complaint lacked specificity.
ALJ Salapa granted the PO setting a deadline for the filing of an amended complaint. The Complainant did not file an amended complaint; the Complaint was dismissed. ALJ Salapa distinguished his ruling from Elliot v. PECO wherein the PUC remanded the hearing finding that there was an underlying BCS Decision to provide info to the utility to prepare for the hearing. In the present proceeding, there is no underlying BCS Decision to inform PECO of the alleged incorrect charges nor has there been any PAR on the account.
Complainant alleges she did not reside at Service Location; PGW asserts the matter was disposed of in the 2010 Complaint wherein a Certificate of Satisfaction was entered as a result of a settlement agreement.
The Complainant seeks a PAR on her balance which consists of CAP and non-CAP arrears.
Special Agent Hunt granted a PAR on non-PCAP arrears.
Complainant is unable to pay bills and seeks a PAR. Company previously settled 2009 complaint by enrolling Complainant into its CAP program.
ALJ Salapa found that the Company properly explained the increase in the CAP payments several times; a PAR could not be directed since he previously defaulted on BCS PAR as part of the 2009 complaint.
The Complainant alleges there are incorrect charges and he should not be responsible for a makeup bill which was issued after PGW replaced his meter.
PGW responds that the meter was recording correctly, but that the AMR was not transmitting the readings for billing purposes. PGW also indicates that there was a theft of service at the property.
The Complainant alleges that PGW provided inadequate service by failing to keep three separate appointments to turn on his service; failed to bill him for three years; and the makeup bill contained incorrect charges. PGW asserts that the missed appointments were due to the confusing service address (his address was on one street and the entrance to the home was on another) and a bill was not sent for three years due to lack of access to the home.
ALJ Heep dismissed the claim regarding incorrect charges, but fined PGW $200 for Section 1501 violation.
The Complainant alleges incorrect charges and she received a termination notice. She argues her bills became excessive once she was placed on budget billing. The Company denied the allegation and sought to dismiss the Complaint based on res judicata; her 2010 Complaint raised the same allegations.
ALJ Cheskis dismissed the high bill claim but ruled that the Complainant was entitled to a PUC PAR. He found that the PAR that settled the 2010 Complaint was not a PUC PAR, but rather a Company PAR.
The Complainant’s service is subject to termination and he requests an “affordable” PAR. PECO asserts the Complainant does not pay his bills on time and in full; he defaulted on PUC PAR.
ALJ Pell dismissed the Complaint for lack of prosecution noting Complainant attempted to withdraw his Complaint without prejudice, which was opposed by PECO. The ALJ found that the request to withdraw or to reschedule the hearing was not timely submitted and no good cause was provided.
Complainant alleges PGW improperly filed lien against his rental property; he requests lien be removed and that he be re-instated in Landlord Cooperation Program (LCP).
PGW denies that Complainant was enrolled in LCP and asserts that the PUC does not have subject matter jurisdiction over municipal liens.
ALJ Jandebuer dismissed the Complaint for lack of jurisdiction.
The Complainant alleges his tenants are responsible for the electric service per their lease and he objects to being held responsible for those bills. Penelec states that the electric accounts were in Complainant's name at the relevant times making him responsible for the services rendered.
ALJ Long sustained the Complaint in part, finding that with the exception of a two-week period for one of the accounts, the Complainant was not responsible for the past due balances for the three accounts. ALJ Long stated that Penelec was in a superior position retaining records of its contacts with customers. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to require specific evidence from Penelec to establish that the account is properly placed in the landlord's name.
The Complainant objects to a make-up bill for 48 months of unbilled service. PGW alleges that the AMR was incorrectly programmed and only transmitted half of the gas passing through the meter.
ALJ Nguyen dismissed the Complaint and found that PGW’s explanation for the meter’s AMR malfunction reasonable; the Complainant is responsible for the gas service.
Complainant filed Exceptions arguing that she does not bear the burden of PGW’s programming error and wants a longer PAR for the makeup bill.
The Complainant objects to makeup bill for unbilled services as a result of a faulty AMR device. PGW asserts the makeup bill was consistent with Section 56.14.
ALJ Vero sustained the Complaint, in part. Complainant showed the AMR and actual meter were malfunctioning, but failed to show that PGW acted improperly in issuing makeup bill. The meter test reflected that the meter exceeded ± 2% regulation; PGW must issue a new makeup bill reflecting the credit ($57.09).
Complainant filed Exceptions arguing she should not be responsible for unbilled charges from a meter found to have malfunctioned.
Complainant alleges PECO took too long to restore service after Hurricane Sandy. PECO asserted that there were over 850,000 outages.
ALJ Guhl found that PECO’s standard protocol was reasonable to restore Complainant‘s service considering the major storm and number of outages.
The Complainant challenged the makeup bill arguing his reduced usage occurred because of recently installed energy efficient appliances. PGW alleges that following a zero reading, it discovered that the ERT failed to record usage due to high magnetic counts.
At the hearing, ALJ Vero ordered PGW to test the meter and submit the test results as a late-filed exhibit.
ALJ found PGW properly issued makeup bill and offered 48 month PAR per Section 56.14. Meter tested within PUC guidelines, but PGW improperly assessed LPC since the makeup bill was a disputed estimated bill.
Complainant alleged WPP failed to notify him of a high meter reading (10x normal usage) and he is being billed for a smart meter that has not been installed. WPP asserts bills are correct as rendered (and offered 5-month PAR) and smart meter surcharge is authorized by PUC.
ALJ Dunderdale sustained the Complaint in part, finding (1) the Complainant was properly charged for the electricity recorded by the meter; (2)smart meter surcharge is authorized by PUC to reflects cost to develop a plan to deploy smart meters; (3) WPP violated Section 1501 by not notifying the Complainant until March 2013 of his high meter reading in December 2012 (Company estimated usage for billing purposes), which denied him the opportunity to revise his lifestyle/usage. Penalty of $500 assessed pursuant to Section 69.1201(c).
Complainant alleges he should not be responsible for increased usage due to a leak on his side of the meter. PGW tariff clearly states that it is not responsible for any lines or leaks beyond the meter.
ALJ Heep found PGW was not required to bear cost of gas that escaped after meter due to leak. The Complainant’s balance was due in large part to paying less than billed on of the monthly bills.
Complainant alleges UGI refuses to restore his gas service until an outstanding balance for another service location was satisfied. UGI filed PO asserting res judicata based on his 2013 Formal Complaint.
ALJ Salapa treated the PO as a Motion for Judgment on the pleading since res judicata must be pled in New Matter, not PO. ALJ found requirements of res judicata were met.
Joint Dissent: Cawley and Brown
Complainant alleges PECO is holding them responsible for usage associated with a prior tenant. PECO asserts the Complainant is playing the corporate name game.
ALJ Pell found the Complainant accepted responsibility for the charges when it entered into a PAR for the balance that included charges from date of purchase of property and PECO’s Tariff permitted the back billing.
Complainant alleges his makeup bill was the result of an employee error in using an estimated reading rather than the obtained actual reading for three bills; two intervening bills were also incorrectly estimated.
ALJ Hoyer found the bills correct as rendered noting that the Complainant has obligation to pay for unbilled service per Section 56.14.
Complainant filed Complaint # 6 challenging termination notice for nonpayment arguing that since the US Supreme Court had not ruled on his prior complaints, his complaints were still pending at the PUC. PECO filed a New Matter alleging abuse of process and requested that the Complainant to be barred from filing future complaints until the balance of the last PUC PAR ($9,742) was paid.
ALJ Barnes dismissed the Complaint, denied 2nd PUC PAR and granted PECO’s request to bar future filings until PAR balance is satisfied.
Complainant alleges that PPL stated he would not be responsible for the electric arrearage accumulated by tenant since he corrected the foreign load at the property.
ALJ Colwell sustained the Complaint based on PPL’s refusal to enter customer contacts; allegation of Section 1501 violation was not refuted; Company fined $1,000.
Complainant alleged incorrect charges and high bill. PGW asserts it adjusted the bills after the Complainant disputed the $71.75 credit provided by PGW. The meter tested fast per §59.22(a).
ALJ Hoyer sustained the Complaint finding PGW did not offer evidence to support its calculations. The ALJ did note that PGW conducted a high bill investigation which revealed that the Complainant’s heat source was not functioning properly causing the heater to run continuously; PGW is not responsible for Complainant’s heat system. PGW was directed to recalculate the bill and refund the meter testing fee.
Complainant alleges the DSIC surcharge consists of unfair trade practices, conversion and breach of contract since surcharge is applied to entire bill not prorated to effective date of surcharge. Aqua asserting its service and bills conform to its tariff that surcharge applies to bills issued/rendered not services rendered.
ALJ Johnson ruled that a hearing was not necessary since there was no factual dispute, and as a matter of law, the Company is permitted to assess the DSIC surcharge on a bills rendered basis.
Complainant alleged that PGW was threatening to terminate her service without proper notice. PGW denied the allegation. Six months later, the Complainant filed a petition seeking to withdraw her Complaint without prejudice; PGW did not object to the requested withdrawal.
Complainants allege reliability as a result of the outage related to Hurricane Sandy; seeks to switch his EDC to PPL and alleges Section 1501 violation for the way he was treated.
ALJ Jandebeur dismissed the Complaint finding that the restoration time frame was not unreasonable; Company followed protocol in prioritizing restoration (i.e. hospital, critical infrastructure, etc.). The inaccurate information provided by call center did not rise to unreasonable service. Complainant can change EGS not EDC.
Complainant alleges his AC unit was damaged as a result of a power surge; he seeks damages and acceptable voltage levels.
Complainant alleges liens for unpaid gas bills should be removed – his tenant’s owe money – not him. PGW filed PO based on PUC’s lack of jurisdiction.
Complainant alleged she is not responsible for outstanding charges because she did not reside at the Service Location and that PECO failed to discontinue service upon her mother's request. PECO denied all allegations.
ALJ Melillo dismissed the Complaint with prejudice for failure to appear noting that (1) she did not receive any notice that the Complainant was unable to attend prior to the hearing date (Complainant's mother advised at hearing that Complainant is incarcerated and that she has Power of Attorney); and (2) Power of Attorney does not authorize a non-attorney to represent an individual in a formal PUC proceeding.
Complainant seeks a PAR with mixed CAP and non-CAP arrears. PGW asserts a PAR is not permitted since CAP arrears and she previously defaulted on 2-Company PARs.
ALJ Heep directed PAR for non-CAP arrears based on Hewitt v. PECO.
PGW filed Exceptions arguing that Complainant must pay off CAP arrears before receiving PUC PAR for non-CAP arrears citing Cooper v. PECO. Complainant did not file Replies to Exceptions.
Complainant disputes the make-up bill for 48 months of unbilled service that PGW alleges was the result of meter tampering.
ALJ Jones ruled that the identity of who tampered with the meter is irrelevant to the obligation for unbilled services. She limited the unauthorized period to 21 months and directed a new bill with no usage for gas stove or water heater included.
BIE for review.
PGW filed a Petition for Reconsideration of the PUC’s February 27, 2014 Order which required PGW to issue a 20% conservation credit due to the six-year period the meter malfunction and the Complainant did not receive adequate price signals related to his gas consumption.
PGW argues the conservation credit constitutes impermissible compensatory damages, which are beyond the PUC’s jurisdiction. PGW asserts that after the PUC obtained jurisdiction over PGW in 2000, it agreed, in limited circumstances, to the application of the conservation credit, because it was a way for PGW to voluntarily provide customer satisfaction to those customers who experienced the inconvenience of receiving bills for previously unbilled services.
PGW argues that the conservation credit is only applied to their makeup bills, not other regulated utilities.
Complainant seeks PAR to restore gas service. PGW asserts PAR not warranted given the high balance and four previously defaulted PARs, including the CAP agreement.
ALJ Cheskis directed PGW to reconnect service and directed a PAR for the non-CAP arrears.
PGW filed Exceptions arguing that prior to the PAR for non-CAP arrears becoming effective, the Complainant must first satisfy all CAP arrears.