Public Utility Commission Highlights 2023 Accomplishments

During its final public meeting for 2023, the Public Utility Commission continued a tradition of highlighting major accomplishments over the past year.

“This year, the PUC continued our mission of balancing the needs of consumers and utilities,” said Chairman Stephen M. DeFrank. “On behalf of my fellow Commissioners, I thank all PUC staff for their continued work, steadfastness and expertise. Our team cooperatively handled an impressive number of filings, complaint calls, electric and safety inspections, telephonic and in-person hearings and many other important duties on a daily basis for the Commonwealth and its utility customers.”

New PUC Leadership

During 2023, following the departure of its longtime Chairman, the PUC welcomed a new Chairman and Vice Chair.

Stephen M. DeFrank, who joined the Commission in 2022, was appointed Chairman by Gov. Josh Shapiro.

The PUC welcomed Kimberly M. Barrow in her new position as Commissioner, and shortly after she was elected Vice Chair by her fellow Commissioners.

In September, the Commission announced the appointment of Jennifer Berrier, of Harrisburg, as Executive Director for the PUC, bringing leadership, operational knowledge, administrative skills and policy experience.

The PUC also late this year appointed a new Chief Counsel, David E. Screven, and new Directors of the Office of Special Assistants, Kimberly A. Hafner, and the Bureau of Consumer Services, Lori Mohr.

Filing & Resources

Since the start of 2023, the Secretary’s Bureau has received and processed more than 27,000 filings, served approximately 11,500 documents, responded to more than 170 Right-to-Know requests, and converted approximately 9 million pages of historical documents to digital scans making them available for public review.

The PUC’s Office of Administrative Law Judge presided over a mix of telephonic and in-person hearings – a total of 620 evidentiary hearings and 32 public input hearings. In addition, 285 were resolved through mediation and presiding officers rendered 349 written decisions.

Throughout 2023, the PUC’s Office of Special Assistants prepared 205 orders for Commission consideration at Public Meetings in proceedings involving consumers and regulated utilities.

In 2023, the PUC Law Bureau regularly represented the Commission in an average of 45 open state and federal court appeals each quarter. Eighty-six percent of the 35 proceedings that concluded with decisions resulted in the courts affirming the Commission’s opinions or other positive outcomes in support of the Commission’s position.

Consumer Issues

This year, the PUC’s Bureau of Consumer Services answered more than 140,000 calls and resolved more than 75,000 customer inquiries and informal complaints.

Our PUC consumer education team planned this year's in-person Be Wise and Be Utility Wise conferences for human service professionals, which reached more than 600 participants.

This year, the PUC was recognized by state and international communications organizations for innovative and creative efforts – showcasing the PUC’s ongoing #CallUtilitiesNow campaign created to help reach consumers and small businesses experiencing financial difficulty.

Since then, it has continued to evolve and is the core of PUC outreach related to rising energy prices and ongoing utility bill concerns.

The Commission created enhancements to its shopping website by consolidating pages, streamlining information and making the process to shop easier for the consumer.

The PUC recognized Digital Connectivity and Lifeline Awareness Week to help income-eligible Pennsylvanians stay connected through the Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Programs.

The PUC’s Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Advisory Board launched a recruitment effort with the creation of a flier and attendance at a statewide hearing loss expo.

Preparedness Issues

The PUC’s Office of Cybersecurity and Compliance Oversight completed an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking pertaining to the Commission’s cybersecurity regulations, led by the Commission’s Cybersecurity Incident Response Team in response to reported cybersecurity incidents.

Staff also worked with the regulated utility community to create a cybersecurity notice of proposed rulemaking pertaining to the Commission’s cybersecurity regulations.

Commission staff facilitated and participated in several emergency preparedness exercises and activities with colleagues from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), along with state and federal agencies and utility stakeholders.

The PUC also facilitated a tabletop exercise for GridEx VII, which is a national-level exercise coordinated by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).

Safety Issues

The PUC’s Safety Divisions conducted more than 3,000 electric and pipeline safety field inspections.

Thirty electric and pipeline incident investigations were handled by the divisions.

Also, during 2023, 648 underground facility owners, excavators and project owners were directed to attend Act 50 training (related to the Pennsylvania One Call Law), while the PUC’s Damage Prevention Committee (DPC) approved 3,158 violations related to 753 cases that were addressed during this year’s 11 DPC meetings.

The PUC’s Motor Carrier Enforcement Division conducted 91 focused reviews on carriers, completed more than 2,250 federal New Entrant Safety Audits and more than 3,850 roadside inspections of commercial motor vehicles.

Meanwhile, the PUC’s Rail Safety Section conducted and submitted 1,250 Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) inspections, and responded to 60 reported incidents involving a train and an automobile or pedestrian.

Gas Drilling Impact Fees

The PUC collected and distributed more than $278 million this year through impact fees from natural gas producers – pushing the 11-year total to more than $2.5 billion collected and distributed to communities across the state.

Additionally, more than 72% of our utilities accessed the PUC’s assessment portal online to report annual revenues.


The PUC Audits team released 30 reports covering 90 years of adjustment clauses and reviewed and approved approximately 352 adjustment clause filings.

Management Audit staff released three Management Audits, two Management Efficiency Investigations and the 516 Annual Report for Calendar Year 2023.

Energy Retail Markets

The PUC’s Office of Competitive Market Oversight continued to monitor the developments with energy markets and our efforts to help consumers deal with affordability concerns.

Declining wholesale electric and natural gas prices led to a more robust retail market with more cost-saving opportunities for consumers.

Every month in 2023 saw greater consumer participation in competitive markets with more people shopping – totaling more than 1.5 million electric customers by year-end, representing more than 64% of the total electricity load in Pennsylvania.

Declining wholesale prices also led to lower default service prices for most of those customers that chose an alternative energy supplier.

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[Posted: December 22, 2023]


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