This was the companion case of PPL Electric Utilities Corporation v. City of Lancaster, 462 MD 2013 (Pa. Cmmw. Ct. Oct. 15, 2015). The facts, issues, and arguments advanced by UGI and the City of Lancaster were substantially the same as those set forth and disposed of in PPL. In PPL the Commonwealth Court held that the City was permitted to impose an annual maintenance fee upon utility companies for use and occupancy of its municipal Rights-of-Way.
In UGI’s petition for review it sought a declaration that the City’s ordinance was preempted by the Code and was invalid and unenforceable. Additionally, UGI argued that the imposition of new maintenance and sidewalk and street opening fees, as well as the cost of requiring it to submit maps and drawings, were excessive and unreasonable. The provisions at issue require utility companies to submit to the City paper and electronic copies of maps and engineering specifications depicting and certifying the location of all existing and/or updated facilities within the City’s Rights-of-Way. Additionally, the City could require utilities to reimburse it for the cost of converting maps from paper to electronic form or vice versa.
The Commonwealth Court found these provisions were preempted by the Public Utility Code. It reasoned that, in essence, these provisions allowed the City to become a regulator itself, and therefore were invalid. The Court reiterated its conclusion in PPL that the City was permitted to charge an annual maintenance fee so long as the fee was reasonable and not a tax.