The municipal regulation of public utility facilities continues to be a topic of litigation. In April 2018, we discussed how municipalities cannot use zoning ordinances to regulate non-building facilities of public utilities. Recently, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court weighed in on whether a municipality can regulate when and how a public utility installs its improvements within the municipality’s street rights-of-way. Again, the litigation resulted in a favorable decision for the public utility.
In PPL Electric Utilities Corp. v. City of Lancaster, 2019 Pa. LEXIS 4611 (Pa. 2019), the City of Lancaster adopted an ordinance to regulate the installation of public utilities in City streets. This effort was not surprising as many municipalities look at their street rights-of-way as a critical asset that must be protected.