Disconnections By Natural Gas Marketers and Electing Distribution Company (EDC)
When Can A Company Disconnect Utility Services?
Residential natural gas services may be disconnected when:
§ A bill is not paid within 45 days from the statement date.
§ A customer requests it.
§ Service to the customer constitutes an immediate hazard to persons or property.
of the Georgia Public Service Commission, a court, or any other authorized
Limitations on Disconnections by a Natural Gas Marketer or Electing Distribution Company (EDC).
Natural gas service shall not be disconnected unless the EDC or marketer, whichever has billing responsibility, has delivered, or caused to be delivered, to the service address -- or to the address of any party who to the knowledge of the EDC or marketer has undertaken responsibility to pay the bill -- written notice of the proposed disconnection at least fifteen (15) days prior to the date of disconnection. The disconnect notice shall be clear and conspicuous, shall be distinguishable from the bill for past service and shall include the following information:
§ The earliest date of the proposed disconnection.
§ The amount due and the reason for the proposed disconnection.
§ A local or toll free number that the consumer may call to obtain information about the proposed disconnection.
§ A list of pay stations in the state or a local or toll-free number that the customer can call to obtain information about pay stations where a cash payment can be processed for immediate posting to the consumer’s account.
§ The procedure for preventing disconnection of service including one where there may be a medical emergency that prohibits disconnection.
§ Information concerning any assistance programs that might assist the consumer in paying the past due bill, including the division name and telephone number for information regarding heating assistance administered by the Department of Human Resources.
§ A statement that the consumer is entitled to at least one reasonable payment arrangement in writing prior to disconnection,. Such statement shall also state that the consumer must contact the marketer in order to receive such payment arrangement. The marketer must provide a local or toll-free number for the purpose of establishing payment arrangements.
§ A statement that qualified low-income residential consumers may transfer to the Regulated Provider without termination of service.
Additionally, the marketer must make a good faith effort to make personal contact with the consumer at least two (2) days prior to disconnection. This personal contact may be in the form of a telephone call, certified mail, certification of mailing, hand delivery, or other method designed to reasonably notify the consumer of pending disconnection.
The date of the proposed disconnection must be a business day when a representative of the marketer is available to receive payments from consumers.
The overdue bill cannot include any charges other than those stated in the written disconnection notice. The overdue bill also cannot be comprised solely of an unpaid deposit unless the deposit was assessed at the commencement of service or within sixty (60) days after service began.
The overdue bill cannot be for consumption of more than two months service that was previously estimated. Furthermore, service cannot be disconnected for nonpayment of an estimated bill unless the consumer has been given an amount of time to pay the bill equal to the amount of time in which the bill was estimated.
Natural gas service
cannot be disconnected for amounts of a bill that are currently in dispute
with a marketer.
Disconnection for Multi-Family Dwellings
The marketer must provide at least
fifteen (15) days written notice prior to any proposed utility
disconnection to tenants of multi-family dwellings where the landlord is
responsible for payment of utility services. The notice shall be
personally served on at least one adult in each dwelling unit or posted
conspicuously on the premises when personal service cannot be made.
Exceptions to Disconnection:
A utility shall not discontinue gas or electric service to a residential customer between November 15th and March 15th if:
§ The forecasted local temperature is below 32°F for a 48-hour period beginning at 8:00 a.m. on the date of the proposed disconnection.
§ The consumer agrees, in writing, to pay the past due balance including customer charges in equal installments for a maximum duration beginning with the first billing period after March 15th and concluding prior to the following October 15th. If the consumer defaults on this agreement, natural gas service may be subject to disconnection.
§ The consumer must also agree in writing to pay all bills by their due date for current service received after the above-mentioned agreement.
Service shall not be disconnected for nonpayment of a bill to a residential customer who has a serious illness which would be aggravated by the disconnection - provided that the consumer:
§ Notifies the company of this condition in writing. The consumer may also notify the company orally, but written notification must be provided to the company within 10 days of the oral notification.
Within 10 days
of providing initial notice to the company, the consumer must also furnish
to the company a written statement by a physician, county board of health,
hospital, or clinic identifying the illness, its expected duration, and
certifying that the illness would be aggravated by such disconnection.
In such event, the proposed disconnection shall be held in abeyance for
the shorter of either the length of the illness or one month from the date
of such initial notice, and the consumer may renew the
one additional time by repeating the aforementioned procedure.
What If I Believe I Have Been Disconnected in Error?
If it is believed that service has been disconnected in error, notify the marketer as soon as possible in an effort to rectify the situation. A marketer shall use every reasonable means to resolve a consumer complaint regarding a disconnection in error. If all remedial measures with the marketer have failed, request that the Georgia Public Service Commission investigate the dispute. A marketer must respond to Commission inquiries about possible disconnects in error within one (1) business day of referral. Additionally, the marketer shall not charge a consumer any reconnection fee or any other related charges resulting from a disconnection in error.