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Service disconnection rules vary by type of utility. The following summary only applies to utilities that are regulated by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).* The IURC’s service disconnection rules are detailed in Title 170 of the Indiana Administrative Code, available on the Internet and at local libraries.
When a regulated utility is planning to disconnect a customer's service, it must provide a written notice a certain number of days in advance (except under certain circumstances as noted below).
The time period varies by utility:
A disconnection notice must be clearly written, precise and understandable. It must include the date of and reason for the proposed disconnection, along with the utility’s telephone number and consumer rights information or a reference to a relevant publication. Also, it may be included on a customer's billing statement. If and when you receive such a notice, you should contact the utility immediately.
A utility can only disconnect service for nonpayment between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. local time, and only on a day that the utility office is open to the public. Also, service may not be disconnected for nonpayment after noon of the day before any day that the utility's offices are closed to the public. (In other words, if a utility’s offices are closed on a particular Friday, it can not disconnect service after noon on the Thursday before.)
A gas, electric, water or sewer utility employee:
If you can provide a paid receipt or other credible evidence of payment, the employee is not allowed to disconnect service. Utilities are not required to collect any “on the spot” payments to prevent service disconnection, but they may. If you make an “on the spot” payment, be sure to get a written receipt showing the date and time, the payment amount, and the employee’s name and business address.
If your service is disconnected, the employee should provide the address and telephone number to contact to arrange for service reconnection.
A utility may not disconnect service for failure to pay for merchandise or appliances purchased from the utility (as opposed to utility service). Disconnection is also not allowed for failure to pay for service to the previous occupant of a customer’s property, unless there is evidence that the customer is trying to defraud the utility by setting up service under a different name.
A utility may decide not to disconnect service (even when it has the legal right to do so) if the customer contacts the utility to discuss the reason for falling behind in payments. However, the customer must:
Home Energy Assistance
A gas or electric utility may not disconnect a customer’s service between December 1 and March 15 if he or she qualifies and has applied for the state's Energy Assistance Program, regardless of whether benefits are received.
If a disconnection will cause a serious and immediate threat to the health or safety of a person in your household, the utility must postpone the disconnection for 10 days if you provide a medical statement from a licensed physician or a public health official. This postponement can be continued for one additional 10-day period if an additional medical statement is provided. A natural gas utility may grant an additional postponement for medical reasons after 20 days, at the utility's discretion.
If a customer pays all past due charges or makes satisfactory payment arrangements and resolves any other problems that led to loss of service, he or she can apply to have service reconnected. The utility:
If a customer’s service has been wrongfully disconnected, the utility should restore the service immediately and at no charge.
If you believe a utility has wrongfully or illegally disconnected your service, contact the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) toll free at 1-800-851-4268.
* The IURC does not regulate municipal sewer systems (except for Indianapolis). Indiana law allows certain utilities to remove themselves from IURC regulation, including municipal water and electric systems; utilities operated by not-for-profit corporations; privately owned water and sewer utilities serving fewer than 300 customers; and rural electric membership cooperatives (REMCs).
The Indiana General Assembly deregulated most telephone service offerings in 2006. State disconnection regulations for certain landline telephone providers and services were in effect until July 2009, and also do not apply to wireless, Internet, cable television or other telecommunications services.
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) represents Indiana consumer interests before state and federal bodies that regulate utilities. As a state agency, the OUCC's mission is to represent all Indiana consumers to ensure quality, reliable utility services at the most reasonable prices possible through dedicated advocacy, consumer education, and creative problem solving.
Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
Voice/TDD: (317) 232-2494
Fax: (317) 232-5923
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