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What Obligations Do Utility Companies Have To Their Customers?

What Obligations Do Utility Companies Have to Their Customers?

What Obligations Do Utility Companies Have To Their Customers?

We depend on electricity, water, and gas not only for convenience but for our survival. Despite the necessity for these services, many people don’t consider what goes into turning on the light in their bathroom or how they get gas or electricity to cook a meal for their families. As long as customers are paying their utility bills on time, they tend not to second guess their access to the utilities they need.

Providing utility services to consumers is a monumental responsibility. Because utility services are so important, there are regulations and laws that govern how utilities are to be provided and the operations of utility companies. In North Carolina, the North Carolina Utilities Commission regulates the state’s public utility companies, such as electricity, gas, and water utility companies. Utility companies have to abide by regulatory laws that aim to protect consumer rights.

Right to Service

Consumers that are in the service area of a utility company have the right to receive those utility services. This is known as utility companies’ “duty to serve.” As long as the consumer is mentally competent and can agree to pay for the utility services, the utility company has to provide them access to the utilities.

Offer Reasonably Priced Utility Services

When consumers don’t have access to necessary utilities like electricity and gas, their risk of harm is great. Many states recognize consumers’ needs for utility services, including North Carolina. As a result, a primary regulation for utility companies is to offer affordable utility services. Of course, “affordable” is subjective. State regulations specify that utility companies should price their services at an amount necessary for them to operate and but their rates can’t be unreasonably expensive.

If a consumer has an adverse utility record due to non-payment, the utility company still can’t deny service to the consumer. They can, however, require that the consumer pay a deposit before receiving services. But the deposit still can’t be unreasonably priced.

Protection from Abrupt Termination of Service

Utility companies can terminate services to a consumer if they have not made the required payments for service or if the consumer has violated the utility company’s rules of use. However, utility companies have to give notice to the consumer before shutting off their utility service.

North Carolina regulations state that electrical and gas utility companies have to give consumers at least ten days’ notice before shutting off the consumer’s electricity service. Additionally, utility companies have to give consumers reasonable options to make payments on their past due bills or set up a payment arrangement. If services are scheduled to be terminated, utility companies can’t terminate those services on state or federal holidays or on the day immediately preceding any state or federal holiday, weekends, or on Fridays.

Call Mullen Holland & Cooper, P.A. to Handle Your Carolina Utility Company Legal Matters

Does your utility company need help dealing with employment issues, contract disputes, real estate and land issues, and compliance with state regulations? Call Mullen Holland & Cooper, P.A. today for help.

Our utility lawyers have represented utility companies in North Carolina and South Carolina in an array of legal matters. To discuss your needs and how we may be able to help you resolve your legal issue, call us at 704-864-6751. You can also reach us by completing our short contact form online.

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