PRINTER'S NO. 110
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE BILL
No.
144
Session of
2021
INTRODUCED BY SAPPEY, SANCHEZ, OTTEN, A. DAVIS, T. DAVIS,
FREEMAN, MILLARD, CIRESI AND MADDEN, JANUARY 13, 2021
REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON CONSUMER AFFAIRS, JANUARY 13, 2021
AN ACT
Amending Title 66 (Public Utilities) of the Pennsylvania
Consolidated Statutes, in rates and distribution systems,
further providing for valuation of acquired water and
wastewater systems; and providing for water ratepayer bill of
rights.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Section 1329(d)(1) and (3) of Title 66 of the
Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes are amended and the section
is amended by adding a subsection to read:
§ 1329. Valuation of acquired water and wastewater systems.
* * *
(d) Acquisitions by public utility.--The following apply:
(1) If the acquiring public utility and selling utility
agree to use the process outlined in subsection (a), the
acquiring public utility shall include the following as an
attachment to its application for commission approval of the
acquisition filed pursuant to section 1102 (relating to
enumeration of acts requiring certificate):
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(i) Copies of the two appraisals performed by the
utility valuation experts under subsection (a).
(ii) The purchase price of the selling utility as
agreed to by the acquiring public utility and selling
utility.
(iii) The ratemaking rate base determined pursuant
to subsection (c)(2).
(iv) The transaction and closing costs incurred by
the acquiring public utility that will be included in its
rate base.
(v) A tariff containing a rate equal to the existing
rates of the selling utility at the time of the
acquisition and a rate stabilization plan, if applicable
to the acquisition.
(vi) The results of the ratepayer referendum
conducted under subsection (d.1).
* * *
(3) The commission shall issue an order approving or
disapproving the application for acquisition. If the results
of the ratepayer referendum under subsection (d.1) show a
majority of ratepayers disapprove of the proposed
acquisition, the commission shall not approve the application
for acquisition. If the commission issues an order approving
the application for acquisition, the order shall include:
(i) The ratemaking rate base of the selling utility,
as determined under subsection (c)(2).
(ii) Additional conditions of approval as may be
required by the commission.
* * *
(d.1) Ratepayer referendum.--A ratepayer referendum shall be
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conducted by a selling utility with a fair market value of
$1,000,000 or more. The following shall apply:
(1) Each ratepayer shall be asked "do you approve the
sale of (insert selling utility) to (insert acquiring public
utility or entity) for the sum of (fair market value)?".
(2) A selling utility shall notify ratepayers of the
referendum via United States mail and a full page
advertisement in a newspaper of major circulation in the
municipalities served by the selling utility and may
additionally notify ratepayers of the referendum via
electronic mail, a publicly accessible Internet website and
any other method of communication.
(3) The selling utility shall mail each ratepayer, on a
date determined by the selling utility, a referendum ballot
in a clearly marked envelope and provide instructions on how
a ratepayer may vote either via paper ballot or a secure
publicly accessible Internet website.
(4) The selling utility shall provide clear instructions
as to the deadline by which ballots must be postmarked via
United States mail or received via a secure publicly
accessible Internet website, except that under no
circumstances shall less than 30 days elapse between the date
the ballots are mailed and the deadline.
* * *
Section 2. Title 66 is amended by adding a chapter to read:
CHAPTER 20
WATER RATEPAYER BILL OF RIGHTS
Sec.
2001. Definitions.
2002. Truth in water and wastewater privatization.
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2003. Truth in water source.
2004. Right to information.
2005. Right to access lands that were previously public.
2006. New customer rights.
§ 2001. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this chapter
shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Water or wastewater utility." A water or wastewater public
utility subject to regulation under this title.
§ 2002. Truth in water and wastewater privatization.
(a) Annual report.--A water or wastewater utility shall
prepare an annual privatization report for ratepayers. The
annual privatization report shall be provided to each ratepayer
by bill insert and shall be posted on the water or wastewater
utility's publicly accessible Internet website.
(b) Contents.--The annual privatization report shall include
all of the following:
(1) A list of each water or wastewater system that the
water or wastewater utility has purchased in the last 10
years which was previously owned by a municipality or
municipal authority.
(2) The annual amount billed to a typical residential
customer by the municipality or municipal authority at the
time of the acquisition.
(3) The annual amount billed by the water or wastewater
utility to a typical residential customer of the former
municipality or municipal authority in the most recent
calendar year.
(4) The amount of subsidy, if any, being provided by the
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water or wastewater utility's other customers to the former
customers of the acquired systems.
(5) Any other information deemed necessary by the
commission.
(c) Filing.--A water or wastewater utility shall file the
annual privatization report with the commission. The commission
shall include all annual privatization reports in the annual
report as required under section 321 (relating to annual
reports).
§ 2003. Truth in water source.
(a) Annual notice.--A water or wastewater utility shall
notify ratepayers on an annual basis of the source of their
drinking water. Notification shall be provided by bill insert
and published on the water or wastewater utility's publicly
accessible Internet website.
(b) Advanced notice.--Ratepayers must be notified nine
months prior to a change in the drinking water source.
(c) Public emergency.--If a public emergency requires the
change of a source of drinking water and notification of
ratepayers is not practical, the water or wastewater utility
shall notify the commission and ratepayers in writing within 14
days after the emergency change.
(d) Additional notice.--A water or wastewater utility shall
disclose, upon request of a ratepayer, if water is being sold
for bottling, fracking or other purposes as determined by the
commission.
§ 2004. Right to information.
(a) Information collection.--Water and wastewater utilities
shall be required to engage in mandatory information collection
on rate increases, arrearages, service disconnections and water
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lien sales. Information collection shall include geographic and
demographic information, as applicable.
(b) Report.--A water or wastewater utility shall provide,
upon request of a ratepayer, a report based on the information
collected under subsection (a).
§ 2005. Right to access lands that were previously public.
After the acquisition of a water or wastewater system that
was owned by a municipality or municipal authority, ratepayers
shall have access to the lands that were previously publicly
accessible.
§ 2006. New customer rights.
The rights provided under this chapter shall be provided to a
new customer of a water or wastewater utility within 30 days of
becoming a customer.
Section 3. This act shall take effect in 90 days.
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