A Day at Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
Andrew Place is Vice Chair of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
Steve Mitnick is Editor-in-Chief of Public Utilities Fortnightly and author of the book “Lines Down: How We Pay, Use, Value Grid Electricity Amid the Storm.”
PUF’s Steve Mitnick: What’s it like to be the vice chair of the Pennsylvania PUC? What’s your average day like?
Andrew Place: It varies, which is one of the intellectually interesting parts of it. You have these three buckets. You have a quasi-jurisdictional piece. You have the regulatory piece, and then, you have the policy piece.
We run a public meeting every two to three weeks, when we adjudicate cases, things that have percolated up. In some ways, we’re like an appeals court. I’m not a lawyer, of course, but we have good lawyers on the staff.
You tackle everything, from a four-foot-by-four-foot piece of concrete that someone chipped, and that the owner is taking their utility to task for. From that, to big rate cases, and everything in between.
That fills up, certainly, the week of public meeting. That’s really all we’re focusing on. But we also then serve as statutory overseers of pipeline safety, rail safety, the whole gamut of that. Again, it’s infinitely varied, when we’re doing water, gas, electric, transportation network companies like Uber or Lyft, taxis, limousines, rail safety, pick the issue.
PUF: How did you come to work at the commission?