A METERAGE DECISION OF INTEREST IN PENNSYLVANIA.
A decision of interest relative to charging for the installation of meters has been rendered by the Pennsylvania Public Service Commission in the case of Carl L. Gable versus the Emporium Water Company. The ruling being that where meters are required by the company. The Commission’s ruling the meter and the installation shall be borne by the company. The Commission’Ss ruling might be acceptable in certain localities but not in others. A large number of meters are furnished and set at the expense of utilities but this system might not apply in other places. The Commission favors a meterage system and thinks it an equitable way to furnish water but that it should object to the company or municipality charging to installation of the system will not meet with the approval of many of those water works men who have given long study to the question. We quote from the decision, in part, as follows: “The company contends that when it has laid its mains in the streets of the borough and secured a sufficient supply of pure water, it has completed the duty laid upon it by its charter, and is at liberty to require that the water taken from its mains shall be measured by meters. It is argued that the complainants are takers of water and not mere purchasers to whom the company may refuse to sell, and that, therefore, it is reasonable for the company to insist that these takers by right furnish the means of measurement. It is, however, the company which is insisting upon this method of measuring the water taken, and the means by which the measurement is made is within the control of the corporation. The meter is a facility used in measuring the quantity of water as much for the benefit of the company as of the consumer, and in order that it should accomplish its purpose it should be under the control of and subject to regulation by the company. Its inspection and repair is not in the hands of the consumer, and in case he discontinues the service the apparatus itself is of no use to him. The installation of meters is, of course, a great expense to the utility and it is to be borne by it in the same manner as other expenses necessarily incurred in the rendering of just and reasonable service to the public, such as the construction of service lines from the mains to the property line of the consumer. This expense is a capital charge and will presumably be taken care of by the equitable adjustment of the rates which will allow the company to recompense itself for the original investment and the usual cost of upkeep. A rule which requires the consumer in the first instance to pay for such additions to the property of the company, when the company insists upon its installation, is unjust and unreasonable, and an order will be issued directing the Emporium Water Company to so amend its rules as to provide that where meters are required by the company to be installed the cost of such meters and the installation thereof shall be borne by the company.”