Rules to keep in mind if you are at risk of a utility shut-off.
If you fail to make payments and are at risk of shut-off, keep in mind:
- Your power cannot be shut off for nonpayment on Saturdays, Sundays, legal holidays other days when the utility’s public offices are closed.
- Medical baseline or life support customers will not be disconnected without an in-person visit from a utility representative.
- You must be notified before your power is shut-off. PG&E, Edison, SoCal Gas and SDG&E must send a 15-day notice of termination (which may be combined with your regular bill) followed by a 48-hour notice and must attempt to contact the customer by phone or in person. You should also receive an explanation for the proposed shut-off and the options you have to prevent termination, such as payment arrangements and appeals to your utility or the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
Avoiding A Shut Off During a Billing Dispute
If you do not follow the proper procedures while disputing a bill it can result in a shut-off. If you think your bill is incorrect you should first try to negotiate with the utility by asking to speak with a manager or supervisor. If that fails, you should File a complaint with the CPUC immediately. If you file a complaint after receiving the disputed bill, your power cannot be shut off until the CPUC has issued a decision and the case has been closed. However, if you file a written complaint, it may take longer (as long as 21 to 41 days) for the CPUC to review your complaint and you can still be shut off. If this is urgent call the CPUC hotline at: 1-800-649-7570 and file a written complaint.
Don’t wait for a shut off notice to contact the CPUC if you want to dispute your bill. Protect yourself by notifying your utility as soon as possible of your intent to dispute your bill and your reasons for doing so. You should also make sure that any bills you receive after this are paid (minus the disputed amount) in full and on time.
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Why can’t the California Public Utilities Commission help me if my service is with a municipal utility?
What can I do if I have a problem with my electricity or gas?
There are two categories of electric and gas companies in California. The first category is usually called “investor-owned utilities” or “IOUs.” These are companies such as Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), Southern California Gas (SoCal Gas), Sempra Energy and San Diego Electric and Gas (SDG&E). These utility companies provide electricity, gas and water service and are regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
The second category includes municipal utilities, owned by a local government such as Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) or Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). The CPUC has no jurisdiction over municipal utilities. Municipal utilities are governed by a board of directors who are appointed or elected, and customers of municipals should contact board members or staff for assistance.
There is also a third Municipal Utility called a Public Utility District (PUD). A PUD is a special- purpose district or a jurisdiction established by a governmental body that provides for public utilities (such as electricity, natural gas, water, sanitary sewers/waste water treatment plants, municipal solid waste collection, and more recently, wholesale telecommunications) for the residents of that city or town. PUDs are often governed by a commission, which may be appointed or elected.