Ratepayer and Customer
Energy Regulatory Partnership Program
Abuja, Nigeria
July 14-18, 2008
Presented by Robert W. Kehres
The MPSC’s activities are open to
the public
Open Meetings Act
Freedom of Information Act
Billing Rules for Residential Customers
Billing Rules for Non-residential
• Rules of Practice and Procedure
– Rule 207 statements
– Interventions as a party
Residential Billing Rules
Application for service
Deposits and guarantees
Meter reading
Billing and payment standards
Voluntary termination of service
Utility procedures
Shutoffs and service restorations
Energy assistance and shutoff protections
Disputes and hearings
Commission appeal procedures
Residential Billing Rules Highpoints
• A person may apply for service at the
utility’s office, in writing, by telephone, fax,
internet, or other means of
• The utility may require positive
identification, a deposit, payment of a
delinquent account.
Highpoints – Deposits
• General rule – absent justification, the
utility may not require a deposit from a
• If a deposit is required, the utility is
required to hold it in the customer’s m
• Name and to pay interest on the deposit
• Rule 8 – Prohibits deposits based on
income, home ownership, residence
location, race, color, creed, sex, age,
national origin, marital status, familiar
status, disability, and any status not
mentioned in the rules.
New Customer Deposits
If the customer has a delinquent account
Misrepresents identity or credit standing
Fails to provide position identification
Non-residential location
History of unauthorized use
Living with a person having a delinquent
• Bankruptcy within 6 years
Previous Customer or Continued
Service Deposits
Delinquent account
Misrepresents identity or credit standing
Fails to provide position identification
History of unauthorized use
Shutoff service for non-payment of an amount
that is not in dispute
• One or more bad checks
• Living with a person having a delinquent account
• Bankruptcy within 6 years
Meter Reading Procedures
• General Rule – Utilities shall provide
residential customers with actual meter
readings on a monthly basis
• Estimated meter reading are appropriate
under limited circumstances
• Customers shall be given opportunity to
read and report usage on their own
• Utility must obtain at least one actual
reading per year
Meter accuracy
• Inaccurate meters must be repaired or
• Meters that record outside expected range
must be investigated
• Utility may assess meter relocation
charges under certain circumstances
Billing and Payment Standards
• General rule – monthly billings by mail
• Different periods and payment methods
may be agreed to (example – on-line
• Equal monthly billing a/k/a budget billing
• Customer has 21 days to pay
• Low-income customer may designate how
payment is to be split among services
Billing and Payment Standards
• Utility may charge for:
– Energy consumed
– Late payment
• Limited to not more than 2%, not compounded, of
the portion of the bill, net of taxes, that is
delinquent (but not applicable for WPP customers).
Billing information
• Beginning and ending meter readings and
• Units of energy consumed this year and
• The energy rate, due date, total amount
• Any previous balance
• Taxes
Billing Errors
• If a utility overcharges a customer, the
overcharge plus interest at 7% must be
returned to the customer
• Three year limitation on repayments
• Undercharges due to unauthorized use
may be backbilled by Commissionapproved method.
• Other undercharges are limited to one
Voluntary Terminations
• Customer needs to give 10 days notice to
• Allow the utility access to the premises
• Provide an address for the final billing
• Utility needs to read the meter within 10
• Schedule a time to read the meter if the
utility does not have access to it
Utility Procedures
• Utilities must establish procedures for
investigating complaint and inquiries
• A utility must attempt to reach a customer
within 2 business days after referral from
the Commission and must report back to
the Commission within 10 days
• Utilities must have toll-free telephone
service for customers’ use
More Utility Procedures
• Utilities must have trained staff to answer
customer inquiries during business hours
• Utility assistance must be available in languages
other than English
• Assistance must be available at all hours for
shutoff of service and emergencies
• Utilities must have pamphlets explaining
customer rights and responsibilities summarizing
• Utilities must provide customers with access to
rates and tariffs
Shutoff Procedures
• Emergency shutoffs permitted at any time
for reasons of health or safety or in the
case of a state or national emergency
• When possible, the utility must provide a
notice at all affected premises
Shutoffs for non-payment
Delinquent accounts
Failure to provide a deposit that is required
Unauthorized service usage
Failure to comply with the terms of a settlement
Refusal to arrange an inspection, meter reading,
maintenance, repair, etc.
Customer misidentifies self
Safety violations
Presence of person having a delinquent account
Notice of Shutoff
• Utility cannot shut off service for nonpayment without first giving notice to the
• Notice must be delivered by first class mail
or personal service at least 10 prior to date
of shutoff
• Notice must contain information about
customer’s rights
Time of Shutoff
• Shutoff must take place between 8:00 am
and 4:00 pm
• Shutoff may not take place on a day, or a
day immediately preceding a day, when
the services of the utility to restore service
are not available
Manner of Shutoff
• At least one day before shutting off service for
non-payment, a utility must make not less than
two attempts to contact the customer by
telephone. If no phone contact is possible, the
utility must use an alternative notification
• Immediately before shutoff, the company
representative must identify himself and accept
payment if proffered in lieu of shutting off the
Shutoff Procedures
• Utility representative shall have a copy of
the delinquent bill and must accept
payment in any form tendered, except by
check if the customer has given the utility
a bad check in the previous 12 months
• If the customer fails to respond or fails to
pay, service may be shutoff, but utility
must leave a notice of how to have the
service restored in a conspicuous place
Shutoffs Prohibited
• A utility shall not shut off service for any of
these reasons:
– Non-payment of goods or services that are
not regulated by the MPSC
– Service at a different location
– A different class of service
– Certain landlord/tenant situations
– Military service situations
Restoration of Service
• A utility shall restore shutoff service
promptly when the cause of the shutoff
has been cured or satisfactory credit
arrangements have been made
• The utility shall attempt to restore service
on the day requested by the customer
• Utility may assess a restoration fee.

Ratepayer and Customer Rights