Customer Rights & Responsibilities
As of June 2015
Customer Rights and Responsibilities to Avoid Shutoff of Electric Service for Non-Payment
1. What can I do if I receive a notice from the utility that says my service will be shut off because I have a past due bill?
- Pay the bill in full; or
- Enter into a reasonable payment plan with the utility (see #2); or
- Apply for and become eligible for low-income energy assistance (see #3); or
- Give the utility a written statement from a doctor or public health official stating that shutting off your electric service would pose an especial health danger for a person living at the residence (see #4); or
- Tell the utility if you think part of the amount shown on the bill is wrong. However, you must still pay the part of the bill you agree you owe the utility (see #5).
2. How do I go about making a reasonable payment plan? (Residential customers only)
- Contact the utility as soon as you know you cannot pay the amount you owe. If you cannot pay all the money you owe at one time, the utility may offer you a payment plan that spreads payments evenly up to 12 months. The plan may be longer depending on your financial situation. Payment Plans must be completed in person at the utility office.
- If you have not made the payments you promised in a previous payment plan with the utility and still owe money, the utility can refuse to offer you another payment plan.
- If you do not make the payments you promise, the utility may shut off your utility service without further notice unless all the money you owe the utility is paid. If your utility service is shut off, the utility may refuse to offer you any further payment plans.
3. How do I apply for low-income energy assistance? (Residential customers only)
- Contact Upper Des Moines Opportunity at 714 10th Avenue East, Suite 2, Spencer, IA 51301; telephone (712) 262-7409; or
- Contact the Division of Community Action Agencies at the Iowa Department of Human Rights, Lucas State Office Building, Des Moines, Iowa 50319; telephone (515) 281-0859. To prevent disconnection, you must contact the utility prior to disconnection of your service.
- To avoid disconnection, you must apply for energy assistance before your service is shut off. Notify your utility that you may be eligible and have applied for energy assistance. Once your service has been disconnected, it will not be reconnected based on approval for energy assistance.
- Being certified eligible for energy assistance will prevent your service from being disconnected from November 1 through April 1.
4. What if someone living at the residence has a serious health condition? (Residential customers only)
Contact the utility if you believe this is the case. Contact your doctor or public health official and ask the doctor or health official to contact the utility and state that shutting off your utility service would pose an especial health danger for a person living at your residence. The doctor or public health official must provide a written statement to the utility office within 5 days of when your doctor or public health official notifies the utility of the health condition; otherwise, your utility service may be shut off. If the utility receives this written statement, your service will not be shut off for 30 days. This 30-day delay is to allow you time to arrange payment of your utility bill or find other living arrangements. After 30 days, your service may be shut off if payment arrangements have not been made.
5. What should I do if I believe my bill is not correct?
You may dispute your utility bill. You must tell the utility that you dispute the bill. You must pay the part of the bill you think is correct. If you do this, the utility will not shut off your service for 45 days from the date the bill was mailed while you and the utility work out the dispute over the part of the bill you think is incorrect. You may ask the Iowa Utilities Board for assistance in resolving the dispute. (See #9)
6. When can the utility shut off my utility service because I have not paid my bill?
- Your utility can shut off service between the hours of 6 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday.
- The utility will not shut off your service on nights, weekends, or holidays for nonpayment of a bill.
- The utility will not shut off your service if you enter into a reasonable payment plan to pay the overdue amount (see #2).
- The utility will not shut off your service if the temperature is forecasted to be 20 degrees Fahrenheit or colder during the following 24-hour period, including the day your service is scheduled to be shut off.
- If you have qualified for low-income energy assistance, the utility cannot shut off your service from November 1 through April 1. However, you will still owe the utility for the service used during this time.
- The utility will not shut off your service if you have notified the utility that you dispute a portion of your bill and you pay the part of the bill that you agree is correct.
- If one of the heads of household is a service member deployed for military service, utility service cannot be shut off during the deployment or within 90 days after the end of deployment. For this exception to disconnection to apply, the utility must be informed of the deployment prior to disconnection. However, you will still owe the utility for service used during this time.
7. How will I be told the utility is going to shut off my service?
- You must be given a written notice at least 12 days before the utility service can be shut off for nonpayment. This notice will include the reason for shutting off your service.
- If you have not made payments required by an agreed-upon payment plan, your service may be disconnected without further notice.
- The utility must also try to reach you by telephone or in person before it shuts off your service. From November 1 through April 1, if the utility cannot reach you by telephone or in person, the utility will put a written notice on the door of your residence to tell you that your utility service will be shut off. The utility may charge a fee to deliver a written notice to your door 1 day prior to disconnection. A fee may be charged if payment in full or a reasonable payment plan is not made prior to the date stated in the notice given 1 day prior to disconnection.
8. If service is shut off, when will it be turned back on?
- The utility will turn your service back on if you pay the whole amount you owe or agree to a reasonable payment plan (see #2).
- If you make your payment during regular business hours, or by 7 p.m. for utilities permitting such payment or other arrangements after regular business hours, the utility must make a reasonable effort to turn your service back on that day. If service cannot reasonably be turned on that same day, the utility must do it by 11 a.m. the next day.
- The utility may charge you a fee to turn your service back on. Those fees may be higher in the evening or on weekends, so you may ask that your service be turned on during normal utility business hours.
- The utility may require you to pay a new or additional deposit if your account has been delinquent three or more times in the last twelve months.
9. Is there any other help available besides my utility?
If the utility has not been able to help you with your problem, you may contact the Iowa Utilities Board toll-free at 1-877-565-4450. You may also write the Iowa Utilities Board at 1375 E. Court Avenue, Room 69, Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0069, or by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Low-income customers may also be eligible for free legal assistance from Iowa Legal Aid, and may contact Legal Aid at 1-800-532-1275