|Posted:||April 22, 2015 04:19 PM|
|From:||Representative Rosemary M. Brown|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Amending the Definition of a Public Utility|
|In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation to amend the definition of “public utility” in Title 66 to provide an exception for a resort offering water or sewer services to private homes who take service at a point within the property boundaries of the resort.
Recently, one of my constituents, a resort owner, contacted me to discuss a decision of the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to recognize his resort as a public utility and subjecting it to regulation under Title 66. The resort provides water and sewer service to these private residences as required by property deeds or as a courtesy to the owners. The resort’s provision of these services is incidental to its principal business. Under the PUC’s Order, the resort will be forced to incur substantial costs to comply with the ratemaking requirements of Title 66 and other PUC regulations. The PUC’s Order has placed the future sustainability of the resort, and others similarly situated, in jeopardy. Although currently subject to an appeal in Commonwealth Court, I fear that the PUC’s ruling sets a dangerous precedent for all other resorts operating in this manner across the Commonwealth.
My bill will clarify the definition of “public utility” to except from applicability, a resort, whose annual revenue demonstrates that its primary business is providing lodging and entertainment for guests and not providing utility service. Further, a resort will not be considered a public utility if it’s annual revenue derived from the provision of water or sewer services is one percent or less of the gross revenues of the resort. A resort will be prohibited from expanding services to any other private properties and must charge rates that are at or below the average rate of similar surrounding municipalities.
This legislation balances the need for consumer protection of private homeowners who live within the boundaries of a resort and receive water or sewer service from the resort with the need to mitigate subjecting a person or entity who provides these services, through a clause within a deed, contract or as a courtesy to full regulation as a public utility.
Introduced as HB1241