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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: March 27, 2019 02:12 PM
From: Senator Kim L. Ward and Sen. Patrick J. Stefano
To: All Senate members
Subject: Placing Certain Water and Sewer Authorities Under the PUC
We are introducing legislation to place under jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Utility Commission (PUC) any municipal water or sewer authority that choices to operate outside of the county in which it was initially incorporated.

The growth of many water and sewer authorities throughout the Commonwealth has been staggering. While it is understandable service areas have expanded naturally to neighborhoods and areas contiguous with an authority’s original footprint, authorities are acquiring other municipal systems that leapfrog surrounding municipalities and even counties. They have gone from a local authorities to regional corporations with increased lines of business.

An authority originally founded by a city in Southeastern Pennsylvania now provides water to residents in over 40 municipalities within three counties. One authority created to provide water to residents within one county now provides water in 5 counties, maintains a nonoperation landfill, acquired wastewater authorities with service in 15 different townships, and had operating revenues in excess of $100 million its last fiscal year.

Meanwhile, public authority customers are left without any real avenues to address the benefits PUC oversight can provide them when it comes to service and ratemaking. Authorities are by design meant to accomplish public purposes in absence of any direct action of municipalities and is not part of the municipal government. This means little-to-no oversight of any authority’s management practices, efficiencies in service, and customer service standards. Furthermore, authorities are intended to give a cost benefit over private utilities yet their customers are feeling no difference when rates continue to go up.

Our legislation will subject to oversight by the PUC any municipal water or sewer authority that has grown or does grow beyond the local communities it was created to serve and does business in another county. This in turn will ensure safer, more reliable, and more efficient service at reasonable rates and better consumer protections for the authority’s customers.

Introduced as SB678