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Consumer Protections For Utility Customers

Concerning increased consumer protections for customers of investor-owned utilities, and, in connection therewith, making an appropriation.
2020 Regular Session
Business & Economic Development
Bill Summary

Investor-owned Utility Review Interim Study Committee. The bill directs the public utilities commission (PUC) to exercise its existing authority to require information from regulated public utilities in the areas of:

  • The number of utility customers who are exempted from tiered rates due to a medical condition or the use of medical equipment requiring higher amounts of electricity than other customers, and the efforts the public utilities are taking to ensure that customers entitled to the exemption are able to do so ( section 1 of the bill); and
  • Disconnections and delinquencies, including the number of disconnections and a narrative analysis of any trends or inconsistencies revealed by the data ( sections 2 and 4 ).

Section 1 also raises the income threshold for eligibility for a medical exemption from tiered electricity rates from 250% of the federal poverty level (FPL) to 400% of the FPL.

The bill directs the PUC to open rule-making proceedings to:

  • Prescribe standard practices for disconnection due to nonpayment, including the provision of shutoff notices in languages other than English, where appropriate; standard terms for repayment plans to cure delinquencies; and a prohibition on remote disconnection without a personal visit or live telephone call with the customer of record ( section 2 ); and
  • Investigate whether to require public utilities to report positive information about customers' payment history to credit reporting agencies ( section 5 ).

Finally, beginning for any change in an electric utility's rate design approved on or after September 1, 2020, the bill requires an "opt-in" by customers before a public utility may employ a new nonstandard rate such as a time-of-use, inverted block, or flat rate that the change of design be revenue-neutral and not have a disproportionate impact on low-income customers ( section 3 ).

(Note: Italicized words indicate new material added to the original summary; dashes through words indicate deletions from the original summary.)

(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)


Became Law


Bill Text