The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has ended the summer with a series of rulings to guide the state's electric utilities as they devise individual restructuring plans. Overall, the rules seek to temper the effect of competition on certain consumer safeguards and social benefit programs.
Public Purpose Programs. Under new PUC guidelines, electric distribution companies must submit comprehensive, multi-year plans for universal service and energy conservation. The guidelines enforce the state's recent electric restructuring law, which maintains prior state policies on low-income assistance (150 percent of federal poverty guidelines), universal service and energy conservation, allowing for full recovery of costs through a "non-bypassable rate mechanism."
According to the PUC, utility programs must be "competitively neutral" and include features such as percentage-of-income payment plans and rate discounts. Re Universal Service and Energy Conservation Programs, Docket No. M-00960890F0010, July 11, 1997 (Pa.P.U.C.).