Current as of: 2013
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of the general statutes no electric, electric distribution, gas, telephone or water company, no electric supplier or certified telecommunications provider, and no municipal utility furnishing electric, gas, telephone or water service shall cause cessation of any such service by reason of delinquency in payment for such service (1) on any Friday, Saturday, Sunday, legal holiday or day before any legal holiday, provided such a company, electric supplier, certified telecommunications provider or municipal utility may cause cessation of such service to a nonresidential account on a Friday which is not a legal holiday or the day before a legal holiday when the business offices of the company, electric supplier, certified telecommunications provider or municipal utility are open to the public the succeeding Saturday, (2) at any time during which the business offices of said company, electric supplier, certified telecommunications provider or municipal utility are not open to the public, or (3) within one hour before the closing of the business offices of said company, electric supplier or municipal utility.
(b) (1) From November first to May first, inclusive, no electric or electric distribution company, as defined in section 16-1, no electric supplier and no municipal utility furnishing electricity shall terminate, deny or refuse to reinstate residential electric service in hardship cases where the customer lacks the financial resources to pay his or her entire account. From November first to May first, inclusive, no gas company and no municipal utility furnishing gas shall terminate, deny or refuse to reinstate residential gas service in hardship cases where the customer uses such gas for heat and lacks the financial resources to pay his or her entire account, except a gas company that, between May second and October thirty-first, terminated gas service to a residential customer who uses gas for heat and who, during the previous period of November first to May first, had gas service maintained because of hardship status, may refuse to reinstate the gas service from November first to May first, inclusive, only if the customer has failed to pay, since the preceding November first, the lesser of: (A) Twenty per cent of the outstanding principal balance owed the gas company as of the date of termination, (B) one hundred dollars, or (C) the minimum payments due under the customer's amortization agreement. Notwithstanding any other provision of the general statutes to the contrary, no electric, electric distribution or gas company, no electric supplier and no municipal utility furnishing electricity or gas shall terminate, deny or refuse to reinstate residential electric or gas service where the customer lacks the financial resources to pay his or her entire account and for which customer or a member of the customer's household the termination, denial of or failure to reinstate such service would create a life-threatening situation. No electric, electric distribution or gas company, no electric supplier and no municipal utility furnishing electricity or gas shall terminate, deny or refuse to reinstate residential electric or gas service where the customer is a hardship case and lacks the financial resources to pay his or her entire account and a child not more than twenty-four months old resides in the customer's household and such child has been admitted to the hospital and received discharge papers on which the attending physician or an advanced practice registered nurse has indicated such service is a necessity for the health and well being of such child.
(2) During any period in which a residential customer is subject to termination, an electric, electric distribution or gas company, an electric supplier or a municipal utility furnishing electricity or gas shall provide such residential customer whose account is delinquent an opportunity to enter into a reasonable amortization agreement with such company, electric supplier or utility to pay such delinquent account and to avoid termination of service. Such amortization agreement shall allow such customer adequate opportunity to apply for and receive the benefits of any available energy assistance program. An amortization agreement shall be subject to amendment on customer request if there is a change in the customer's financial circumstances.
(3) As used in this section, (A) "household income" means the combined income over a twelve-month period of the customer and all adults, except children of the customer, who are and have been members of the household for six months or more, and (B) "hardship case" includes, but is not limited to: (i) A customer receiving local, state or federal public assistance; (ii) a customer whose sole source of financial support is Social Security, Veterans' Administration or unemployment compensation benefits; (iii) a customer who is head of the household and is unemployed, and the household income is less than three hundred per cent of the poverty level determined by the federal government; (iv) a customer who is seriously ill or who has a household member who is seriously ill; (v) a customer whose income falls below one hundred twenty-five per cent of the poverty level determined by the federal government; and (vi) a customer whose circumstances threaten a deprivation of food and the necessities of life for himself or dependent children if payment of a delinquent bill is required.
(4) In order for a residential customer of a gas or electric distribution company using gas or electricity for heat to be eligible to have any moneys due and owing deducted from the customer's delinquent account pursuant to this subdivision, the company furnishing gas or electricity shall require that the customer (A) apply and be eligible for benefits available under the Connecticut energy assistance program or state appropriated fuel assistance program; (B) authorize the company to send a copy of the customer's monthly bill directly to any energy assistance agency for payment; (C) enter into and comply with an amortization agreement, which agreement is consistent with decisions and policies of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. Such an amortization agreement shall reduce a customer's payment by the amount of the benefits reasonably anticipated from the Connecticut energy assistance program, state appropriated fuel assistance program or other energy assistance sources. Unless the customer requests otherwise, the company shall budget a customer's payments over a twelve-month period with an affordable increment to be applied to any arrearage, provided such payment plan will not result in loss of any energy assistance benefits to the customer. If a customer authorizes the company to send a copy of his monthly bill directly to any energy assistance agency for payment, the energy assistance agency shall make payments directly to the company. If, on April thirtieth, a customer has been in compliance with the requirements of subparagraphs (A) to (C), inclusive, of this subdivision, during the period starting on the preceding November first, or from such time as the customer's account becomes delinquent, the company shall deduct from such customer's delinquent account an additional amount equal to the amount of money paid by the customer between the preceding November first and April thirtieth and paid on behalf of the customer through the Connecticut energy assistance program and state appropriated fuel assistance program. Any customer in compliance with the requirements of subparagraphs (A) to (C), inclusive, of this subdivision, on April thirtieth who continues to comply with an amortization agreement through the succeeding October thirty-first, shall also have an amount equal to the amount paid pursuant to such agreement and any amount paid on behalf of such customer between May first and the succeeding October thirty-first deducted from the customer's delinquent account. In no event shall the deduction of any amounts pursuant to this subdivision result in a credit balance to the customer's account. No customer shall be denied the benefits of this subdivision due to an error by the company. The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority shall allow the amounts deducted from the customer's account pursuant to the implementation plan, described in subdivision (5) of this subsection, to be recovered by the company in its rates as an operating expense, pursuant to said implementation plan. If the customer fails to comply with the terms of the amortization agreement or any decision of the authority rendered in lieu of such agreement and the requirements of subparagraphs (A) to (C), inclusive, of this subdivision, the company may terminate service to the customer, pursuant to all applicable regulations, provided such termination shall not occur between November first and May first.
(5) Each gas and electric distribution company shall submit to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority annually, on or before July first, an implementation plan which shall include information concerning amortization agreements, counseling, reinstatement of eligibility, rate impacts and any other information deemed relevant by the authority. The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority may, in consultation with the Office of Policy and Management, approve or modify such plan within ninety days of receipt of the plan. If the authority does not take any action on such plan within ninety days of its receipt, the plan shall automatically take effect at the end of the ninety-day period, provided the authority may extend such period for an additional thirty days by notifying the company before the end of the ninety-day period. Any amount recovered by a company in its rates pursuant to this subsection shall not include any amount approved by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority as an uncollectible expense. The authority may deny all or part of the recovery required by this subsection if it determines that the company seeking recovery has been imprudent, inefficient or acting in violation of statutes or regulations regarding amortization agreements.
(6) On or after January 1, 1993, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority may require gas companies to expand the provisions of subdivisions (4) and (5) of this subsection to all hardship customers. Any such requirement shall not be effective until November 1, 1993.
(7) (A) All electric, electric distribution and gas companies, electric suppliers and municipal utilities furnishing electricity or gas shall collaborate in developing, subject to approval by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, standard provisions for the notice of delinquency and impending termination under subsection (a) of section 16-262d. Each such company and utility shall place on the front of such notice a provision that the company, electric supplier or utility shall not effect termination of service to a residential dwelling for nonpayment of disputed bills during the pendency of any complaint. In addition, the notice shall state that the customer must pay current and undisputed bill amounts during the pendency of the complaint. (B) At the beginning of any discussion with a customer concerning a reasonable amortization agreement, any such company or utility shall inform the customer (i) of the availability of a process for resolving disputes over what constitutes a reasonable amortization agreement, (ii) that the company, electric supplier or utility will refer such a dispute to one of its review officers as the first step in attempting to resolve the dispute, and (iii) that the company, electric supplier or utility shall not effect termination of service to a residential dwelling for nonpayment of a delinquent account during the pendency of any complaint, investigation, hearing or appeal initiated by the customer, unless the customer fails to pay undisputed bills, or undisputed portions of bills, for service received during such period. (C) Each such company, electric supplier and utility shall inform and counsel all customers who are hardship cases as to the availability of all public and private energy conservation programs, including programs sponsored or subsidized by such companies and utilities, eligibility criteria, where to apply, and the circumstances under which such programs are available without cost.
(8) The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority shall adopt regulations in accordance with chapter 54 to carry out the provisions of this subsection. Such regulations shall include, but not be limited to, criteria for determining hardship cases and for reasonable amortization agreements, including appeal of such agreements, for categories of customers. Such regulations may include the establishment of a reasonable rate of interest which a company may charge on the unpaid balance of a customer's delinquent bill and a description of the relationship and responsibilities of electric suppliers to customers.
(c) Each electric, electric distribution and gas company, electric supplier and municipal utility shall, not later than December first, annually, submit a report to the authority and the General Assembly indicating (1) the number of customers in each of the following categories and the total delinquent balances for such customers as of the preceding May first: (A) Customers who are hardship cases and (i) who made arrangements for reasonable amortization agreements, (ii) who did not make such arrangements, and (B) customers who are nonhardship cases and who made arrangements for reasonable amortization, (2) (A) the number of heating customers receiving energy assistance during the preceding heating season and the total amount of such assistance, and (B) the total balance of the accounts of such customers after all energy assistance is applied to the accounts, (3) the number of hardship cases reinstated between November first of the preceding year and May first of the same year, the number of hardship cases terminated between May first of the same year and November first and the number of hardship cases reinstated during each month from May to November, inclusive, of the same year, (4) the number of reasonable amortization agreements executed and the number breached during the same year by (A) hardship cases, and (B) nonhardship cases, and (5) the number of accounts of (A) hardship cases, and (B) nonhardship cases for which part or all of the outstanding balance is written off as uncollectible during the preceding year and the total amount of such uncollectibles.
(d) Nothing in this section shall (1) prohibit a public service company, electric supplier or municipal utility from terminating residential utility service upon request of the customer or in accordance with section 16-262d upon default by the customer on an amortization agreement or collecting delinquent accounts through legal processes, including the processes authorized by section 16-262f, or (2) relieve such company, electric supplier or municipal utility of its responsibilities set forth in sections 16-262d and 16-262e to occupants of residential dwellings or, with respect to a public service company or electric supplier, the responsibilities set forth in section 19a-109.
(e) No provision of the Freedom of Information Act, as defined in section 1-200, shall be construed to require or permit a municipal utility furnishing electric, gas or water service, a municipality furnishing water or sewer service, a district established by special act or pursuant to chapter 105 and furnishing water or sewer service or a regional authority established by special act to furnish water or sewer service to disclose records under the Freedom of Information Act, as defined in section 1-200, which identify or could lead to identification of the utility usage or billing information of individual customers, to the extent such disclosure would constitute an invasion of privacy.
(f) If an electric supplier suffers a loss of revenue by operation of this section, the supplier may make a claim for such revenue to the authority. The electric distribution company shall reimburse the electric supplier for such losses found to be reasonable by the authority at the lower of (1) the price of the contract between the supplier and the customer, or (2) the electric distribution company's price to customers for default service, as determined by the authority. The electric distribution company may recover such reimbursement, along with transaction costs, through the systems benefits charge.
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