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PENNSYLVANIA OFFICE OF CONSUMER ADVOCATE ANNOUNCES COMPLAINT

 HARRISBURG, Pa., March 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumer Advocate Irwin A. Popowsky today announced that his office has filed a complaint challenging several aspects of Pennsylvania Power & Light Company's (PP&L) current Energy Cost Rate filing before the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC).
 As part of that complaint, Popowsky said, the Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA) is questioning PP&L's request to charge ratepayers for $3 million in costs for a coal contract for which PP&L has not taken competitive bids from other Pennsylvania coal operators. In addition, the OCA is challenging $6.1 million in costs which PP&L is charging ratepayers for liabilities related to its former ownership of several coal mines. The OCA's complaint also asks PP&L to credit its customers with an unspecified amount for revenues obtained by PP&L as a result of sales of capacity to other utilities.
 Popowsky stated that his office has been contacted by a number of PP&L ratepayers as well as independent coal operators with respect to PP&L's decision to purchase coal over the next 12 months from Mon Valley Steel, Inc. PP&L has agreed to purchase coal at a cost which is $3 million more than the current market price. Other Pennsylvania coal operators have claimed that lower cost coal of comparable quality could be obtained from other suppliers through competitive bids. PP&L was previously authorized by the PUC to charge ratepayers for coal from Mon Valley Steel for a six-month period, even though the cost for such coal was above market prices. According to the OCA complaint, however, PP&L specifically stated at the time of the original contract that "PP&L's customers will be required to pay a coal cost premium for only a six-month period after which they will be charged only the competitive market price as determined by bids from numerous suppliers." Despite this statement, the OCA complaint states, PP&L now has agreed in principle to extend the contract for an additional 12 months without competitive bids and has asked to charge ratepayers another $3 million in above-market costs. The OCA complaint alleges that recovery of this additional cost from ratepayers is or may be unjust and unreasonable.
 The OCA complaint also challenges PP&L's right to charge current ratepayers for liabilities incurred for coal miner health benefits when PP&L operated its own coal mines. These liabilities were recently recognized as a result of a change in federal law, but the OCA complaint questions whether they may be properly charged to PP&L ratepayers through the current Energy Cost Rate.
 The OCA complaint also questions whether PP&L ratepayers are being adequately credited for revenues which PP&L receives from the sale of capacity to other utilities. OCA has contended that, to the extent ratepayers bear the costs of these facilities, they ought to be credited with PP&L's sales revenues.
 The OCA has asked the PUC to investigate and hold hearings on each of these aspects of the company's filing.
 /delval/
 -0- 3/18/93
 /CONTACT: Susan Henry, consumer liaison, 717-783-5048/


CO: Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate; Pennsylvania Power &
 Light Company; Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission ST: Pennsylvania IN: UTI SU:


CD -- PG004 -- 7417 03/18/93 10:57 EST
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Date:Mar 18, 1993
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