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.
What causes fluctuations in the price of natural gas?
Two things are responsible for changes in natural gas prices: the wholesale
market for gas (price volatility), and the weather (usage volatility).
The combination of these two factors largely impact the bottom line of
your bill. (Access a detailed explanation and example of volatility scenarios.)
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