Wolf’s Crusade To Raise Utility Bills On Pennsylvanians Continues

Scranton Times-Tribune Knocks Governor For “Diminishing Consumer Protections”

Governor Wolf  is running for re-election on a severance tax that he has selectively failed to inform the public would be passed on to them in the form of spiked utility bills. And last week he continued his push to raise energy costs on Pennsylvanians by signing legislation that would allow energy companies to recoup costs from consumers with less restrictions.

The Scranton Times-Tribune Editorial Board yesterday pointed out the problem with the measure, writing:

  • “The state Public Utility Commission almost always has been more faithful to the “utility” than to the “public.” Now the Legislature and the Wolf administration have agreed to further diminish consumer protections.…The industry says the new law is a progressive step to deal with the changing nature of power generation and delivery. But it is not yet clear how the new protocol will play out, whether some utilities, for example, might use the flexibility to fast-track rate increases that otherwise might take a year or more to implement under the current rate-making process. Unfortunately, the law does not include consumer protections that could preclude such a scenario.” (Times-Tribune, 7/2/18) ​
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review also noted how the legislation might lead to higher rates for consumers. 
  • “Gov. Tom Wolf plans to sign legislation that Pennsylvania’s electric and gas utilities say will help them recoup costs more quickly, but consumer advocates warn that it erodes protection for people and businesses against higher rates. Wolf’s office said Friday that he’ll sign the bill after the state Senate voted 41-8 to pass it.” (Tribune-Review, 6/22/18)

The Governor’s latest efforts to force Pennsylvanians to pay higher gas and electric bills are nothing new.

In 2017, while Scott Wagner opposed the initiative, Governor Wolf  supported a plan to place a “new or higher taxes on consumers’ utility bills.” (AP, 7/27/17)

As mentioned above, Wolf  is now hitching his re-election campaign to a push for a severance tax that he has failed to enact in every budget of his first term. It has been noted multiple times how a severance tax would increase utility bills on Pennsylvanians.

  • “With Pennsylvanians consuming roughly 20 percent of the gas produced here, the severance tax likely will cause utility bills in Pennsylvania to grow.” (The Incline, 5/25/18)
  • “Critics contend a severance tax could increase the cost of natural gas for some Pennsylvania households, as it surely would be passed on to consumers. They’re right.” (Morning Call, 6/26/18)
Therefore, while it was reported in May that President Trump’s tax cuts are going to lower utility rates on Pennsylvanians starting in July, Governor Wolf seems to be on a crusade to undo that positive development.