When the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission ("PUC") determines that a substantial public interest in a rate proceeding has been shown, the PUC will hold public input hearings in a utility's service area. The Office of Consumer Advocate ("OCA") offers the following advice for ratepayers who would like to speak at a public input hearing:
PLEASE PARTICIPATE. This is your opportunity to make the Commission and the Company aware of any concerns that you may have regarding the Company's service and its request for a rate increase.
COME EARLY. Try to arrive early. If possible, try to arrive at least 10 to 15 minutes ahead of the scheduled starting time. This will allow you to hear the introductions and instructions offered by the Administrative Law Judge at the beginning of the hearing.
SIGN UP IF YOU WANT TO TESTIFY. Witnesses are usually called to testify in the order they have signed in.
PREPARE WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY IN ADVANCE. It is helpful to prepare your statement in advance. If you are nervous about speaking in public, you may want to write out your statement and then read it at the hearing.
BE SWORN IN. Unless you are sworn in as a witness your testimony will not become part of the record in the case.
ADD YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE. As a customer of the utility, you have unique information. When you testify, give specific examples to support the issues that you are addressing. If other customers already have testified about the same issue, you may still mention it since it shows that the issue is not an isolated incident. If there are many speakers, the Judge may set a time limit for each witness.
SPEAK SLOWLY AND CLEARLY. Your testimony is important and you want to make sure that it is understood.
WRITTEN STATEMENTS. If you have a written statement or other papers that you want to give to the Judge as evidence, please try to bring extra copies with you. One copy goes to the Judge, and two to the court reporter. You should also bring copies to give to the active parties in the proceeding.
QUESTIONS. Sometimes one of the parties in the case may want to ask you a question about your testimony. Listen carefully to the question and answer it to the best of your ability. It is okay if you do not know the answer.
ASSISTANCE FROM THE OCA. If you need information about the case or about the procedures for testifying, please feel free to contact the OCA at (800) 684-6560. An OCA attorney will be present at all public input hearings in cases where our office is a party. Please ask the OCA attorney any questions you may have. The OCA is there to assist the ratepayers.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST
* Many of these suggestions have been developed by the PUC's Bureau of Consumer Services