The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Monday filed a complaint against a Philadelphia nonprofit agency that it alleged has failed to properly use ratepayer funds collected from Peco customers for economic development.
The complaint, filed in Commonwealth Court, seeks a return of unspent funds, plus interest, from the Delaware Valley Regional Economic Development Fund. DVREDF received about $21 million in funding from Peco ratepayers intended to support economic development loans and grants under the state's 1998 electric utility restructuring plan.
According to the PUC complaint, DVREDF activity has remained at an "unacceptable low level," with no known outreach programs to identify credible projects; no protocols or metrics to evaluate the few programs that have been funded over the years; and no known efforts to make the Philadelphia community aware of the availability of these economic development funds.
The complaint also alleges that DVREDF has ceased to cooperate with PUC efforts to secure more information about its operations.
"The commission is concerned that, absent an effective remedy, the large investment amounts currently held by DVREDF may be squandered or misapplied to inappropriate projects and investments," it stated in the 138-page complaint.
The PUC wants to redirect the unspecified amount of unspent funds to various utility hardship funds or universal service programs for low-income customers, support other sustainable development funds, or provide customer rate relief.
"Delaware Valley Regional Economic Development Fund just received notice of this lawsuit today and does not have a comment on active litigation," the organizations executive director, John Coffman, said in an email.
DVREDF, which is located in Center City, identifies itself on its website as a nonprofit "that provides financing to eligible businesses and nonprofits for projects that relate to the promotion of economic development and tourism with a job impact."