The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has adopted a settlement with Pennsylvania American Water Company (PAWC) approving the company’s plan to replace customer-owned lead service pipelines (LSPs) and recover associated costs. It said that the agreement puts in place the first such plan granted by the commission under a new state law aimed at finding a cost-effective way to replace LSPs in conjunction with the company’s main and company-owned LSP replacement program while avoiding health and safety concerns associated with partial lead service line replacements. The commission explained that a partial lead service line replacement may not significantly reduce the lead level at the customer’s tap but may temporarily increase lead at the customer’s tap due to disturbing the customer-owned service line during the partial replacement. It also noted that galvanic corrosion will occur at the connection of the old lead service line on the private side of the home and then newly-installed copper service line on the public side. Under the approved program:
- Following PAWC’s replacement of a customer-owned LSP, the customer will retain ownership and responsibility for the new water serve line.
- PAWC will provide a two-year warranty on workmanship and materials for customer-owned LSPs that it will replace.
- PAWC will reimburse customers who recently replaced their LSPs.
- The effect on PAWC’s customer bills is expected to be less than $0.10 per month.
In October 2018, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into law Act 120, which amended the Public Utility Code regarding the accelerated replacement of LSPs and damaged wastewater laterals. This new provision establishes a uniform standard under which utilities may seek to replace LSPs and damaged wastewater laterals and recovery costs associated with that replacement. Re Pennsylvania-American Water Co., P-2017-2606100, Oct. 3, 2019 (Pa.P.U.C.).