Utility Customer Bill of Rights

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Your Rights as a Residential Electric, Gas, or Water Utility Customer

If you have a dispute regarding electric, gas, or water service, the PSC can help.​

You and the utility must first make reasonable attempts to resolve a dispute.

Did you contact your utility to resolve the dispute?

  • No: Contact the utility using its contact information included with the bill or notice.
  • Yes: You may contact PSC Consumer Affairs to try to resolve the issue.


Medical or Protective Services Emergencies

If a disconnection will aggravate a medical or protective services emergency, the utility may delay service shut-off for up to 21 days. The utility may require documentation from a professional involved with the medical emergency or crisis. Contact your utility about any such special circumstances.

Winter Disconnection Rules

If a utility service provides the primary heat source to your home or impacts the primary heat source to your home (for example, water or steam radiators), a utility cannot disconnect that service from November 1st through April 15th.

Before winter, the utility must attempt to contact customers whose service was disconnected for nonpayment. Utilities are also required to check the customer’s well-being, attempt to negotiate payment plans, and inform the customer about any special assistance available to avoid disconnection.

Budget Billing & Deferred Payment Agreements (DPAs)

To manage high winter gas bills or high summer electric bills, ask your utility about budget payment plans. This allows you to average estimated annual use into even monthly payments. Every six months, your payment amount is readjusted to reflect your actual use. At the end of a budget year, your bill is adjusted to correct over-billing or under-billing.

You may also request a deferred payment agreement (DPA) to pay a current or past due balance. A DPA consists of a down payment on the balance and installment payments toward the remaining balance negotiated between you and your utility depending on your situation. If the installment payments are not paid, the utility may disconnect your service. Municipal utilities may not be required to offer a DPA to some customers.


Utility companies may require a deposit for service to ensure payment. A standard deposit cannot exceed the sum of the two largest consecutive bills during the last twelve months. A deposit requested due to nonpayment during the winter months cannot exceed the four highest consecutive bills during the last twelve months.

The following rules apply to payment and refund of deposits:

For residential service, the deposit will be refunded, with interest, after 12 consecutive months of prompt payment.

Meter Readings

Generally, meter readings are based on actual meter readings by the utility or the customer. If a utility cannot read your meter, a customer does not provide a reading, or there is an emergency, you may receive an estimated bill. The PSC requires electric and gas utilities to read your meter at least once every six months and when there is a change of customer. You must allow utilities to perform meter readings or your service can be disconnected.

Conservation and Moving

If you would like information on conservation or are expecting to move to another location, contact your utility. The utility can provide estimated energy costs at the new location, in the form of average energy used or the largest and smallest bills in the last twelve months. As another note on conservation, it is recommended that water heater thermostats be set no higher than 125° Fahrenheit.

For more information on conservation, visit the Focus On Energy website​ or call 1-800-762-7077.

Delinquent Bills Levied as a Tax or Lien

Under state law, some delinquent municipal utility bills may be transferred as a tax to the property tax bill of the property owner or as a lien on a​ tenant’s personal assets.

Printable version of Utility Customer Bill of Rights

Contact Consumer Affairs

You can reach a Consumer Specialist between 7:45 AM and 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday.

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