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Division of Energy Regulation


Frequently Asked Questions

Does the utility have the right to request a deposit from me? Yes. Commission rules allow utilities to request a deposit since service is provided in advance of billing and payment; however, the maximum request is limited to the estimated liability for two months usage. Additionally, the utility must allow residential customers to pay a large deposit request in three installments. If satisfactory credit (timely payment of monthly bills) has been established after one year for residential customers, or two years for commercial customers, the deposit will be refunded.

What is the flat monthly customer (or system) charge that appears on my utility bill? All utilities impose a flat monthly basic customer charge, as approved by the Commission, designed to recover certain fixed expenses associated with making utility service available to your location. The utility incurs these expenses regardless of how much energy or water you consume. These expenses may include customer account expenses such metering, billing, and payment processing as well as fixed costs associated with your individual service line such as depreciation, maintenance, and financing costs. The utility may or may not show this charge as a separate line item on your bill.

Can a utility estimate my meter reading? Yes, but the Commission expects utilities to minimize reliance on estimates. As a practical matter utilities must estimate readings from time to time. Usage may be estimated for various reasons: inclement weather, lack of access to the meter, or the malfunction of equipment. Since the meter continuously accumulates actual usage -- that is, the meter is not "reset" to zero -- estimated usage errors are self-adjusting with the next actual meter reading.

Does a utility have to notify me before it disconnects my service? Yes. Before disconnecting service, a utility must mail a written notice to the customer at least 10 calendar days prior to the possible termination date. This notification requirement may be accomplished either through a notice on the regular monthly bill or through a separate mailing.

What do I do when I receive a service termination notice? When you receive a service termination notice, if you are able to pay the amount due in full, do so immediately through a method to ensure it will post in the utility's accounting system before your shut-off date. It is always a good idea to call the utility to make sure they have received your payment. If you are unable to pay the specified amount in full, contact the utility to see if they will be willing to accept payment arrangements. Do not wait to act until your service has been terminated since it will be more expensive to have your service reconnected than to maintain service.

What do I do if I have damage claim against a utility? The Commission does not adjudicate damage claims. Damage claims need to be filed directly with the utility. If you are unhappy with the decision of the company, you may pursue options available through the regular court system.