On November 30, 2004, Governor Rendell signed the
Responsible Utility Customer Protection Act into law. This law has made major
changes in the ways electric, gas and water companies are permitted to handle
their customer accounts with overdue bills. You may have seen articles in your
local newspaper, or you may receive information about this new law as a bill
insert. We are attaching a letter that companies are using to explain these
changes to their customers. Please read it carefully. The new provisions could
be very important for you or someone you know to understand. So, when your
company sends you a notice, whether in the newspaper or by bill insert, please
read it carefully. If you ever have questions, please call your utility company
or us at the OCA (1-800-684-6560) for answers.
Sample Notice That a Utility Company may be Sending
to Their Residential Customers
The Governor signed a new law called the Responsible Utility Customer Protection
Act (Act 201 or Law) that became effective on December 14, 2004. The Law makes
new rules to help utilities keep costs down. To keep costs down, we have new
rules for collecting money on past due accounts. These rules also apply to
deposits, payment agreements and service accounts that have been shut off. This
notice will tell you about the changes we will be making because of the Law.
Shut-Off of Utility Service - Your utility company can shut off your
service if you fail to do any one of the following: to pay for service, to keep
a payment agreement, to pay a deposit or to allow us to get to our equipment.
We will send you a 10-day notice. Once you get this notice, we have 60-days to
shut off your service. Next, we will try to talk to you at least 3 days before
the shut off date. From December through March, if we do not talk to you, we
will leave a notice 48 hours at the residence before we shut off your service.
If we shut off your service, we will leave a notice to tell you what you need to
do to get service back on.
There are certain times we may shut off your service without giving you notice.
These include stealing service, getting service through fraud, tampering with
our meter, or if there is an unsafe condition.
The Law now allows us to shut-off service on all weekdays, including Fridays.
(Name of company) may also now shut-off your service during the winter (December
1 - March 31). We do not need to get Public Utility Commission (PUC) approval
first. But, we will give you notice. If your income is below 250% of the federal
poverty guidelines, we must first ask the PUC for permission to shut off your
service. For example, this means if there are 3-people in your household your
monthly income must be below $3,265 to require PUC involvement before
If you give us a bad check to stop termination, we may shut off your service
without any further notice.
Payment to Restore Service - Depending on your income and payment
history, we may require you to pay the full bill or we may make a payment
agreement. We may also require you to pay a reconnect fee and a deposit. If you
have broken two or more payment agreements, we may require payment of the full
Any adult who lived at a home that we shut-off for an overdue bill may have to
pay all or part of that balance if you want service in your name.
Between December 1 and March 31, we will reconnect your service within 24 hours
after you pay the bill. During other times of the year, we may take three to
seven days to restore service.
Deposits - You may have to pay a deposit if you do not have good credit.
You do not have good credit if you fail a credit test, have a poor payment
history with us, or were shut-off for an overdue bill. The amount of the deposit
may be equal to two average bills. We will pay 6% interest (simple interest) on
Payment Agreements - The Public Utility Commission (PUC) may make payment
agreements between utilities and customers. The Law allows the agreements to
vary between 6 months and 5 years depending on your income. If you break the PUC
payment agreement, the PUC may set up a second payment agreement only if your
income has changed. If you are enrolled in our CAP program, the Law does not
allow the PUC to make any additional payment agreement if you fail to make the
monthly CAP payments.
Responsibility for Bills - We may require any adult who lives with you
and whose name is on your mortgage, deed or lease to be responsible for bills.
We may ask you to prove who you are and who lives with you.
Medical Certificate - We may delay shut-off if you or someone living with
you is seriously ill. We will delay the shut-off if a licensed physician or
nurse practitioner states that the shut-off will harm the ill person. You will
need to ask your doctor to write a letter to explain your situation.
Complaints to the PUC - You must first contact us (your utility company)
to complain about a problem. If you are not satisfied with our answer, you may
then contact the PUC. You must pay any undisputed amounts and current bills
while the PUC is looking into your complaint. If you do not pay undisputed
amounts or current bills, we will shut off your service.
For more information about our procedure changes, please visit our web site or
For PGW Only - Shut-Off of Utility Service
- We have different rules for winter shut-offs. If your income is more than 150%
but less than 250% of the poverty guidelines, PGW may turn off your service
beginning January 1 unless:
A person in your house is 65 years or
A person in your house is 12 years or
A person in your house has a letter from a
You have paid half or your last 2 bills or
You have paid 15% of your household income
in the last 2 months
For PGW Only - If your household income is low, we will turn on your
service if you join PGW's Customer Responsibility Program (CRP). For example,
this means if there are 3-people in your household your monthly income must be
For PGW Only - Based on your income, the amount of your deposit may be
equal to one or two average bills. If you enroll in CRP, you do not have to pay