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PSC rules in favor of competition in waste hauling in Eastern Panhandle

October 31, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Commercial customers of solid waste hauling and recycling services in Berkeley and Jefferson counties stand to benefit from a West Virginia Public Service Commission decision on Monday to allow a second company to essentially compete for the right to dispose of their garbage, a county official said Monday.

"It's a huge, huge step forward..." Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority chairman Clint Hogbin said of the WVPSC decision in favor of Allied Waste Services of North America LLC.

Though a potential appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia still is possible by Waste Management Inc., Hogbin said a second major hauler of commercial waste would create a competitive environment that will encourage improved service, lower prices and creativity in how waste is disposed.

Allied Waste company submitted an application for a motor carrier certificate in July 2005 that was protested by Waste Management Inc., which now holds a certificate to provide service, according to the PSC's order.

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"The evidence establishes a pervasive and persuasive pattern that Waste Management is not timely providing services to its Eastern Panhandle customers," the WVPSC order states.

"Waste Management's lapses are not isolated incidents, nor do they represent occasional unmet need. While complaints about Waste Management's service peaked in 2004, complaints have consistently continued to date. Accordingly, the Commission should conclude that Waste Management's service in Berkeley and Jefferson counties is neither adequate or efficient," the order states.

As he understands the process, Hogbin said Allied Waste Services would be expected to begin offering solid waste and recycling services to commercial customers within six months, if the WVPSC decision is not appealed to the state's high court.

In his 15 years on the county's Solid Waste Authority, Hogbin said the certificate approval for Allied Waste Services was only the third time a company had been successful with the regulatory process, which he said needs to be revised by state lawmakers.

One company that received certificate approval was subsequently purchased by Waste Management and the third, Panhandle Pumping Inc., provides a "niche market service" limited to construction and demolition sites, Hogbin said.

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