EXPLAINER | "Calling the balls and strikes" -- the Public Utility Commission
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"Calling the balls and strikes" -- the Public Utility Commission

If it comes into your house in a wire or a pipe, chances are the Public Utility Commission regulates it.

The five-member panel oversees Pennsylvania’s gas, electric, water and wastewater utilities. It also regulates telephone providers. According to its website, the PUC oversees more than 6,000 different utilities, approving rates, service plans and safety issues.

On the natural gas front, the commission oversees Pennsylvania’s gas pipelines and “regulates natural gas distribution company rates and service, investigates gas cost rates, and encourages the development of competitive supply markets.”

The natural gas impact fee signed into law in February 2012 empowers the PUC to oversee and collect Marcellus Shale impact fee revenue.

The law also gave the commission power to decide whether or not municipal drilling regulation and zoning is “reasonable,” and within the standards of the statewide standards laid out by the law. At the time, Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, who shaped the majority of the impact fee, said he envisioned the commission serving as an umpire, “calling the balls and strikes” of whether local regulations fit within the law’s framework. However, in July 2014, the state Commonwealth Court stripped the agency of that authority. The PUC appealed the decision but ultimately lost.

The commission’s members are appointed by the governor and approved by the Senate. They serve five-year terms. Current members:

  • Gladys Brown: appointed by Corbett in 2013; appointed chair by Governor Wolf in 2015
  • David Sweet: appointed by Wolf in 2016; elected vice chair in 2018
  • Norman Kennard: appointed by Wolf in 2017
  • Andrew Place: appointed by Wolf in 2015
  • John Coleman Jr.: appointed by Rendell in 2010; reappointed by Corbett in 2012; reappointed by Wolf in 2017

Latest stories


Mariner East 2 pipeline construction crews work in the backyards of homes on Lisa Drive in West Whiteland Township, Chester County, on May 2. Sinkholes that opened in the area prompted the state's Public Utility Commission to order that an existing pipeline nearby, the Mariner East 1, be shut down until it could be determined that the sinkholes didn't threaten its safety. PUC on May 3 approved a re-start of Mariner East 1.
Updated: August 28, 2019 | 4:59 pm

PUC’s review of pipeline safety regulation prompts attacks by residents, groups and lawmakers

Some argued for no added regulations, but most urged tighter curbs on the pipeline industry
By Jon Hurdle

Power lines

Energy Transfer, the parent company of Mariner East 2 pipeline builder, Sunoco, works at Snitz Creek in West Cornwall Township, Lebanon County after a drilling mud spill during the summer.
Updated: June 15, 2019 | 4:24 pm

PUC launches review of safety regulations on hazardous liquids pipelines 

The commission didn’t name specific projects. But it has come under criticism from people who say it hasn’t done enough to ensure the safety of the Mariner East project, which is transporting highly volatile natural gas liquids across the state.

By Jon Hurdle

Crews worked on Monday Jan. 21 to stabilize a new sinkhole that opened up at Lisa Drive, a suburban development in West Whiteland Township, Chester County where Sunoco operates its Mariner East pipelines.

Sunoco to restart Mariner East 1 after agreeing to new safety measures

PUC investigators end three-month shutdown prompted by latest sinkhole at Lisa Drive
By Jon Hurdle

Louis Charlier of Beaver Area High School is participating in the first student bootcamp hosted by Duquesne Light and the Community College of Allegheny County.

Construction on the Mariner East 2 pipeline has faced myriad problems, including damaged water supplies and sinkholes in a residential neighborhood in Chester County.
Updated: January 17, 2019 | 4:40 pm

Judge denies emergency petition for Mariner East shutdown

Suit brought by seven residents fails on all four requirements
By Jon Hurdle

Energy Transfer, the parent company of Mariner East 2 pipeline builder, Sunoco, works at Snitz Creek in West Cornwall Township, Lebanon County after a drilling mud spill during the summer.

Residents urge PUC to halt Mariner East operation, hold hearing on emergency plans

Petition says Sunoco has not done enough to prepare communities for any leak of natural gas liquids
By Jon Hurdle

In this Sunday, July 8, 2018, photograph, 2018 Model 3 sedans charge while on display outside a Tesla showroom in Littleton, Colo.

Pa. regulators adopt new policy, clearing confusion over electric vehicle charging stations

As electric vehicles become more popular with consumers, there are efforts to ensure the charging infrastructure is in place to support them.

By Marie Cusick

Workers installing the Mariner East 2 pipeline August 22, 2018 in Lebanon County. Energy Transfer Partners, parent company of Sunoco Logistics, had told investors that the line would be operational by the end of September. But regulatory issues have held it up.

‘Regulatory issues’ delay opening of Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 pipeline

The company missed its deadline of opening the line by the end of September. The Public Utility Commission said there are several issues with the project that still need to be resolved.

By Jon Hurdle

Construction on the Mariner East 2 pipeline has faced myriad problems, including damaged water supplies and sinkholes in a residential neighborhood in Chester County.

Risk assessment quantifies Mariner East hazards for residents in two counties

The study says a pipeline “release” such as a small leak or a major rupture was likely to occur once every 79 years along a 35-mile stretch of pipeline such as that through Chester and Delaware counties.

By Jon Hurdle
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