ronreadingpa t1_je9yyi0 wrote

PUC is generally useless. Unless there are significant financial penalties levied against PPL, they have little incentive to resolve this quickly, if at all. Prospect that some may never get truly corrected bills. Has the grace period for not paying past due bills been extended beyond 3/31?

Other than the PUC, I don't know what recourse one really has other than posting on social media and persistently contacting PPL via phone, letter, etc. Litigation is expensive and likely requires binding arbitration (should be optional, but that's another topic entirely).

When comparing months, look at many billing days there were. Generally, it's around 30 plus or minus a few days. I suspect for some, one month is say 10 days and another 50 or some other random variation. For messed up bills, PPL needs to do more than just say trust us and pay the so-called corrected amount. They need to explain the situation better.


ronreadingpa t1_jdxncy4 wrote

Happening across the country, including smaller cities too. For example, City of Reading lost McDonalds downtown a few years ago (don't know exactly when; google and Bing are terrible - can't find anything despite articles about it back then) that had been there for decades.

Primarily reduced foot traffic combined with more food choices, including food delivery apps, and crime. While crime isn't the top reason, it's another challenge such locations have to contend with.

Most McDonalds that remain in cities will be those in top tourist destination spots that get regular foot traffic day and night along with those with drive-thrus.

Likely something better and more appealing will replace that spot. Bank is somewhat surprising with so many closing, but they do still open new ones here and there. Key is whether there are many other banks in the area and demographics, such as gentrification. Time will tell what goes in there.


ronreadingpa t1_jdwlbn4 wrote

Comes across as don't look too hard for the cause. Keep talk of it on the downlow. For a smaller-scale incident, would likely work.

However, this is national news, so the details will come out. West Reading officials have done a decent job overall managing the situation, but are way out of their league if seeking to cover things up. Truth will come out.

As for what the company does, my hunch and hope is they promptly settle with everyone affected with fair payouts, rebuilds building 2 bigger and better (expand out to Penn Ave), and gets back to business with a stronger focus on safety.


ronreadingpa t1_jdwj1ds wrote

If true, not evacuating is inexcusable. Likewise, with not turning off the gas to building 2. Would have lost some production, but better than the entire structure blowing up plus damaging building 1 too.

WFMZ 69 coverage is decent, but notice they've been disabling comments on some of the related articles. Maybe afraid of ruffling the wrong feathers. That's the issue with small-time news media. Trust WPVI 6 and WGAL 8 coverage more along with posts here on Reddit from people actually involved, but I digress.

In time the truth will come out. Most likely a natural gas leak, but could have been more complicated than that. Maybe a boiler explosion due to some fault releasing gas to atmosphere, which would have similar results.


ronreadingpa t1_jdwh7fr wrote

Not just factories either. The Wyomissing Post Office was destroyed in 1979 by a natural gas explosion. (great site by the way)

While not a fan of places outlawing gas, it does have some benefits. All-electric is safer. For manufacturing, electricity is often a viable replacement, but requires different equipment and processes. So can't fault companies sticking with what they have and know.


ronreadingpa t1_jdwfy04 wrote

Which pays about 1/2 of their normal wage. Assuming building 1 can be repaired quickly, might be a minor economic hit for workers. However, it seems inevitable that some workers will be let go.

My view is, the company should purchase the large building (assuming they don't own now) fronting Penn Ave, demolishing it all and build a new facility to replace building 2. It would provide better visibility of their presence (not really important, but a nice plus), more manufacturing capacity, and more jobs.


ronreadingpa t1_jdwavts wrote

Ditto. Balloon releases harm animals and pollutes the landscape. Unless they intend to collect every released balloon and properly dispose of them afterwards. Not likely.

EDIT: Deleted firefighters part, since they're not involved with this.

What's next, flying flaming lanterns, releasing doves, etc. Better they spend money and time on something more productive to help victims.


ronreadingpa t1_jdt2zsb wrote

I'd add some more that are also important, but rarely mentioned.

Mandatory meal and rest breaks. PA does not require employers to offer any to employees over age 18. Many workers assume they have more rights than they really do. This is a prime example. Even many HR people don't know this. Most businesses provide some breaks, but varies with hospitality, restaurants, and convenience stores tending to be the worst.

Another one is requiring employers to pay out accrued vacation and personal time upon termination of employment. California and some other states require that, but not PA (unless a company has voluntarily stated otherwise in their employee handbook).

While on the topic of vacation, all employers should be required to provide 1 hour of paid vacation time per X number of hours worked. For example, 1 hour per 25 worked equaling 2 weeks paid or, less ideally, 1 hour per 50 worked equaling 1 week worth of paid vacation.

Points 4 and 5 will be distractions. Not saying they're not important, but are very difficult to define let alone getting buy-in even by other workers let alone businesses and the public-at large (voters). Best to focus on points 1-3.


ronreadingpa t1_jdlxhhg wrote

Very rarely does anyone ever serve time let alone even get convicted unless they are extremely negligent. Then often what happens is the person(s) are arrested with much fanfare to appease the public. However, then the case drags out or is quietly dropped. Alternatively, goes to trial, but case is dismissed, or is acquitted, or found not guilty. Or if found guilty, likely gets probation or does a little time with early release / suspended sentance. Extremely rare for anyone to serve out serious prison time.

Frequent viewers of disaster videos (ie. YT channels: Fascinating Horror and Plainly Difficult) are familiar with how the company / owners / executives often get off with maybe some low-level employee taking the fall.

In short, it's employee beware. If the pay isn't worth the risk, seek out something else. If conditions are dangerous, don't assume the employer will do much or care. Sometimes the only option is to quit.


ronreadingpa t1_jdlw3yr wrote

Virtually no company regularly pays cash anymore. Payroll is presumably mostly direct deposit and maybe some checks. Probably outsourced too, but don't know. Factories like that usually pay Friday on a weekly basis. However, it's possible they were biweekly.

As for your bomb suggestion, it's possible, but would be one heck of a big one to do that much damage. Looks like a natural gas explosion. However, anything is possible. Would expect within a few days the authorities will release a statement of the probable cause.

On a related note, the Wyomissing Post Office also experienced a natural gas explosion about 40 years ago. Such incidents are very rare, but happens more than they should. For residential, all electric is a realistic option, but for manufacturing, often not viable.

Rambling on. In short, near certain an accident.


ronreadingpa t1_jdcahqx wrote

Yes for DUI if you show your card to the officer (generally shouldn't do that, but could see edge situations in which one might choose to, such as being caught with cannabis during a stop) and Yes true for the license to carry.

Worse, can't even legally possess a gun at all under federal law. The reply below is incorrect. While the state legislature can debate state law regarding concealed carry, that doesn't change federal law, which doesn't permit possessing a gun at all.

Many will point out police can't easily access the cannabis card database. Correct. However, if one is caught in a situation involving a firearm, such as using in self-defense or the firearm is stolen and used in a crime by someone else, the issue could come up. Admittedly the risk is small, but very real. Federal law needs to be changed. Until then it's legally one or the other. Card or gun.


ronreadingpa t1_jdahdg0 wrote

Did you pass quickly? If not, that may have upset the driver. Not justifying their action, but is a possibility to consider. As for why people are extra aggressive on the TP could be the insanely high tolls. Feeling entitled to drive fast without anyone in their way. Don't know, but could see some having that mindset.

Personally, I steer clear of the TP whenever possible. Cost is nuts and people drive crazy. Also, the trucks with their speed limiters that can result in prolonged passing while blocking both lanes.

3-lanes not only increases capacity, also reduces the instances of blockades which leads to driver frustration. Wish all major highways were 3-lanes all the way. Blue Route is an example of the difference it makes. The upper section flows moderately well, but below milepost 9 where it's two lanes (was originally to be 3 all the way, but was strong public opposition), traffic and aggression increases.


ronreadingpa t1_jd7vcjp wrote

Worse, if there's a billing issue, the most the PUC generally will do is say work it out with the 3rd party supplier, such as setting up a payment plan. And to switch to another 3rd party supplier or switch back to one's utility in the meantime.

From a consumer protection aspect, one is safest with their utility as default supplier. Soon as one switches away, they lose various protections. Suppliers have much leeway in what they can get away with. Buyer beware!

Door-to-door salespeople, which in my view, are mostly scammers, can get away with shady tactics since the written contract controls. PUC will essentially reiterate this. Likewise for buying other products and services, such as solar panel systems.

Way off on a tangent, but it's disturbing how something so basic has been made so complicated and full of pitfalls. Electric choice makes sense for businesses, but not most residential consumers. Should have never been a thing.

As Texas illustrates though, don't expect much change. PUC likely won't do much beyond remind people to be careful who they talk with and read the contract before agreeing.

PUC should do more, but as many have mentioned, they're presumably bought and controlled by the utilities. Maybe that's not so, but sure seems that way.


ronreadingpa t1_jd7tn6l wrote

PPL's default supply rate has about doubled since last year. Distribution also increased plus a new 5% system improvement charge on top of that.

I've been harping on PPL's steep default supply rate increases for a while. More to the point, I believe PPL's related companies and/or insiders are profiting by shifting customers to suppliers they have an interest in. Doubt the PUC will investigate it on their own, but hoping someone else does.

As for the usage part, could be related to the billing problems they had. Alternatively, could be due to circuits outside of your unit (outside lights, misc outlets, another unit, etc) being connected to your meter. Not overly common, but does happen. PPL may be able to provide historical data, but will mostly need to rely on the landlord for assistance and/or have an electrician to check it out.

Or the meter itself could be programmed wrong and multiplying the actual usage by some incorrect factor. In such an instance would be off by 10X or 100X, but lower multiplier is possible. Ask PPL to send someone out to verify the meter is set up correctly and functioning properly.

In short, many PPL bills with them as the default supplier have roughly doubled since last year due to the rate increases alone.


ronreadingpa t1_jd4ltk2 wrote

PPL seemingly didn't negotiate their default rate in good faith. Significant rate increases that far exceed that of other PA utilities.

Read a blurb in another article suggesting PPL is seeking to shift more customers to 3rd party suppliers. Statistics bear that out with about twice the percentage (~30%+) of PPL customers with 3rd party suppliers verses customers of other utilities.

PPL has in the past commented about the problems with 3rd party suppliers, but lately it appears they're seeking to get to out of supplying electricity at all. PPL has jumped the shark lately to appease shareholders.

Their recent meter reading incident followed by billing problems followed by lack of customer service is a prime example. Never seen PPL this bad. Something has definitely changed for the worse.

Furthermore, while PPL isn't permitted to profit from supply, my hunch is that PPL related companies and/or insiders are. Would like to see that investigated.

Good point about time of use plans, but gives PPL another way to push customers away to 3rd party suppliers despite knowing many of them are so shady with some being outright ripoffs. Also, a time of use plan could include a distribution component as well to curtail peak loads over its distribution network. Saving money on upgrading transformers and the like long as possible.


ronreadingpa t1_jcyulrx wrote

PPL is among, if not the, most expensive electricity utility in the state. While one can reduce the bite a bit by choosing another supplier with PPL only serving as the distributor, cost may still be high. PPL seemingly has gone off the rails to appease investors.

If you currently have gas heat, consider staying with that. There are rebates for newer, high-efficiency gas systems too. UGI was doing a $500 rebate awhile back. Not sure what they're offering now.

Look at the whole picture, including typical weather in your area. For lower southeast PA, heat pump often makes sense. While none of PA gets extreme cold weather like NY state, temps under 20 will be challenging for many heat pumps. Air will be less hot and more defrost cycles. Below 10 or so, which varies widely with system, auxiliary / emergency heat will be needed. Many heat pumps use electric heating strips for that, which draw more power.

Heat pumps (which is basically what central air conditioning is, but in reverse) works great for many, but may not save much due to the pricing difference of electric versus gas. Worse, I strongly suspect PPL will be at the forefront of pushing time of use rates on to residential customers. However, not all is roses over in gas land either. UGI and some others have added a Weather Normalization Adjustment. While touted as usually being some nominal amount, it's more than that on some people's bills.

Rambling on. Yes, rebates are available and some tax credits. Be aware federal tax credits are nonrefundable. Not an issue for many working people, but for lower income (ie. those working in retail) and retirees, they often can't fully take advantage of them.


ronreadingpa t1_jcv8991 wrote

While not tax related, consider wear and tear on your vehicle and value of your time. $250 per week net would be good if only doing it 10-20 hours a week. Otherwise, consider something else, such as working part time somewhere. Many places pay around $15 per hour.

Another consideration is car insurance. Be sure to add a rideshare endorsement (even though you're not transporting anyone) or similar (may be called something different) to your insurance policy. Some companies offer it at a nominal cost. Others don't and insist on commercial coverage (overkill for small-time gig work). Many drivers overlook the insurance coverage aspect at their peril.


ronreadingpa t1_jcv5wlm wrote

Presuming you have electric baseboard heat or something like that. That's fine in a pinch, but heating that way all winter will be very expensive.

Gas is generally the cheapest way to heat overall taking into account the upfront cost of the system and maintenance. Heat pumps, especially split systems, are very good, but less ideal for houses in the colder parts of PA.

Water / sewer varies widely, but doubt that's where the issue is. If it is, look at the bill carefully. If the usage seems way off, could be a leaky pipe pass the meter and/or the meter is faulty.

Without more detail, all anyone here can do is speculate. Hope you figure it out, since that amount is double or more what many pay.


ronreadingpa t1_jcpxu2p wrote

Deeds and liens (ie. mortgage, home equity loan, etc) is public information. There are many companies that monitor public records and pounce soon as they detect a change.

While still very uncommon, there's a slight uptick in people buying property under the name of a corporation, trust, etc. Challenge there is keeping the officers / owners secret. Some states make it easy while others, likely including PA, don't. Regardless, it's a barrier.

Also, the government sells data too, such as the DMV (PennDOT). Doubt the spam calls are due to that. However, ads for insurance, etc could be. It's very difficult to hide one's personal information when so many are seeking to enrich themselves with it. Credit bureaus are another. It's endless.


ronreadingpa t1_jca3m87 wrote

There also needs to be penalties for organizations that lose data. They need be held liable too beyond providing useless "free" credit monitoring.

As of now, companies basically get a free pass. If they were on the hook too, many would improve their security while also seeking ways to collect less data to begin with. Not all of it is necessary and should be treated as a liability not an asset as if often is now.

For those patients affected, they should pursue legal action. If the hospital chooses to fight, likely won't get much, if any, money, but chance they settle and pay out something and/or agree to make meaningful changes to their security practices and data collection.


ronreadingpa t1_jc43hha wrote

It's possible, but appears it moved somewhat over time. Difficult to tell from the picture though. In fact, pretty much every store moved / changed name over the years. This is common with malls. The only one that remained steady for 49 years was Sears, which closed down in early 2019.

Hopefully, they hang in there. Helps that Boscov's and Ruby Tuesday are nearby driving traffic.


ronreadingpa t1_jc415k8 wrote

Been saying for years that Tower Health (name probably inspired by the clock tower on its Reading Hospital) operates like an aggressive for-profit.

In my view, buying all those other hospitals weren't for charity, but rather a play to dominate health care in the region. In some ways, it made sense, since regional health systems are increasingly common.

However, Tower Health was ill prepared for what it was trying to do. Have to wonder if some top-level executives knew it wouldn't work, but somehow profited from it. Something that should be looked into further, though would presume some already have.

Tower Health should pay some tax to municipalities and the school districts they have facilities in, which is quite a few, especially within Berks County where it's based.