Disapproves Duplication of Water Service
The Public Service Commission of Pennsylvania, recently, in denying the application of a borough of that State for permission to install a municipal water plant, alleging that the private company was not rendering satisfactory service, gave its reasons for the denial as follows:
If this application is approved and the borough should construct and operate its own water works, as it seeks to do, it would result in the duplication of water plants in applicant borough and create such a condition as should not be permitted to exist, if it can be avoided. The municipality would burden itself with a large indebtedness to pay for a plant to be constructed at the present time when unusually high prices are prevailing and which plant contemplates taking its water supply from the same contaminated source that is so much complained of against respondent. The municipality owned plant and that of the respondent would have duplicated facilities and would enter upon a struggle for their existence. The owners of the present plant can hardly be expected to sit idly by and permit their property to become worthless without some effort being made to prevent it. It cannot be gainsaid that, in the end of the struggle which is bound to ensue between the proposed municipal plant and the existing one. one or the other will succumb. This will only be attained after the struggle has continued for some time, resulting in not only great economic loss, but in more or less inadequate service in the meantime. Such a policy is in direct violation of the intent and foundation on which the policy of State regulation rests. The theory that the public is best served by two competing companies striving to outdo each other by flying at each other’s throats has long ben exploded. An exclusive regulated service by a private corporation or a municipal plant economically operated in the interests of the public and responsive to public opinion, without destroying existing properties, are the two methods which the best thought and experience have shown should prevail in the rendering of public service. From the evidence, it must be conceded that the respondent company has not either appreciated nor perfomed its duty as a water company exclusively serving a community. The’ water it has supplied has not been of the character that its patrons have the right to expect and it has not made reasonable efforts to correct the nonperformance of its public duties. The commission. however, has neither the disposition nor the authority to visit any punitive measure upon the respondent company for any of its sins of omission or commission in the past, and in reaching its conclusion will assume that from this time on the respondent will have due regard for its duty and the rights of the public in the community served by it, that its service will be rendered along the lines herein indicated and that the necessary funds to bring about such an end will be promptly forthcoming. For the reason stated the application will be refused.