The House this week voted to concur in Senate amendments to legislation sponsored by Rep. Robert Godshall (R-Montgomery) to reauthorize the Responsible Utility Customer Protection Act, which was set to expire at the end of this year.
The act (known as Chapter 14 of the Public Utility Code) was established in 2004 to govern gas, electric and water company procedures related to service termination and reconnection, as well as establishing terms for payment arrangements issued by the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to customers who fall behind on their utility bills. It protects responsible bill-paying customers from rate increases attributable to other customers who, despite the means to do so, choose not to pay their bills. It also provides commonsense tools for utilities to improve collections and reduce uncollectible accounts.
“Chapter 14 ensures all customers will have access to utility services, that low-income customers continue to receive payment assistance and that all utility ratepayers will be protected from rate increases caused by the bad debt of those who can pay their bills, but choose not to. House Bill 939 makes reasonable, responsible amendments to ensure the customer protection goals, established in the original law, continue to be met,” Godshall said.
The Senate amended House Bill 939 to add provisions relating to Friday service terminations and security deposits and to establish a new sunset date for the law of Dec. 31, 2024. The House unanimously concurred in Senate amendments, and the bill has been delivered to the governor for his signature.