Utilities - Deposits and Shut-offs

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Do I have to pay a deposit to get my utilities turned on?

Sometimes the utility can make you pay a deposit before you can get your utilities turned on.

The utility can require you to pay a deposit if:

  1. You have had your utilities shut off in the past two years,
  2. You have not been a utility customer for the past two years,
  3. You have made more than two late payments in the last 12 months (or have made one late payment if you have had service for less than 12 months), OR
  4. You are not current in your utility payments now.

However, if you have not been a utility customer for the last two years, you will not have to pay a deposit if you meet 2 of the following 3 conditions:

  1. Have worked for your present employer for 2 years, or have had no more than 2 employers in the last 2 years, or are working at your first job since leaving school or the military and have not yet worked there for 2 years, OR
  2. Have a good credit rating (credit cards, bank loans, etc.). The utility can look only at your credit reputation (not the credit reputation of your neighbors or neighborhood), OR
  3. Own/are buying a home or have rented the same home for more than 2 years.

A current customer of a utility may be charged a deposit if you:

  1. Have received 3 disconnect notices in the past year, or any 2 in a row, OR
  2. Have been shut-off for non-payment of your bill.

How much deposit will I have to pay?
The deposit can not be more than 2/12 of the customer's actual or estimated annual bill where bills are rendered monthly.

Can the utility shut off my service if I don’t pay my bill?
Your service can be shut off if you don’t pay your bill. Gas and electric companies must give you 10 days advance written notice by mail or personal delivery. Water, Sewer, and telephone companies are required to give only 5 days notice. The notice must state the shut-off date and the reason for the shut-off. The notice must also give a phone number to call about the shut-off and to obtain information on customer’s rights.

No notice is required and shut-off can occur at any time if there is a dangerous condition, a court or commission order, or if there are reasons to believe the customer has damaged or changed the meter or equipment or has been getting utilities wrongfully.

Medical Hardship Provision

If a shut-off (including phone service) would be harmful to the health and safety of any household member, a written statement from a doctor or public health official will delay the shut-off for 30 days. A second statement can delay shut-off for another 30 days. A utility company may refuse a consecutive extension unless a partial payment plan is negotiated.

Financial Hardship Provision or Credit Extension Agreement

If you can’t pay the full utility bill, you must call the utility company and negotiate a payment plan. This agreement must be made before the shut-off date.

However, if you broke a similar agreement within the last 12 months, the utility does not have to allow another.

If you receive a termination notice between November 1 and March 31 and receive a certificate from the Kentucky Cabinet for Human Resources stating that you are eligible for the energy assistance program or you have income at or below 130% of poverty level, you will be granted a 30 day extension from the date of termination.

Your Rights As A Consumer

  1. You have the right to service, provided you (or a member of your household whose debt was accumulated at your address) are not indebted to the utility.
  2. You have the right to inspect and review the utility's rates and tariff operating procedures during the utility's normal office hours.
  3. You have the right to be present at any routine utility inspection of your service conditions.
  4. You must be provided a separate, distinct disconnect notice alerting you to a possible disconnection of your service if payment is not received.
  5. You have the right to dispute the reasons for any announced termination of your service.
  6. You have the right to negotiate a partial payment plan when your service is threatened by disconnection for non-payment.
  7. You have the right to maintain your utility service for up to thirty (30) days upon presentation of a medical certificate issued by a health official.
  8. You have the right to prompt (within 24 hours) restoration of your service when the cause for discontinuance of the service has been corrected.
  9. You have the right to contact the Public Service Commission regarding any dispute that you have been unable to resolve with your utility.
  10. If you have not been disconnected, you have the right to maintain your natural gas and electric service for up to thirty (30) days if you present a Certificate of Need issued by the Kentucky Cabinet for Human Resources between November and the end of March.
  11. If you have been disconnected due to nonpayment, you have the right to have your natural gas or electric service reconnected between the months of November through March provided you:
    1. Present a Certificate of Need issued by the Kentucky Cabinet for Human Resources, and
    2. Pay one third(1/3) of your outstanding bill ($200) maximum, and
    3. Accept referral to Human Resources' Weatherization Program, and
    4. Agree to a repayment schedule that will cause your bill to become current by October 15

What if I have a complaint about my utilities?

Any customer who has complaints about bills, shut-off notices or deposits should:

  1. Act fast - don’t wait until the bill is overdue.
  2. Complain in writing or in person, if possible.
  3. Keep copies of all letters.
  4. Keep paying all undisputed bills to avoid a shut-off.

After a utility company has received a formal complaint, it must make a decision promptly and in writing. If you are not satisfied with the decision, you have the right to file a complaint with the Public Service Commission of Kentucky at 211 Sower Boulevard, P.O. Box 615, Frankfort, Kentucky 40602-0615; 1-800-772-4636 or online at psc.ky.gov.

Reviewed August 2009