Regulators file complaint against PSE for disconnect fee

December 20, 2011

By Staff

State regulators issued a complaint against Puget Sound Energy and said the utility improperly charged a residential-visit disconnect fee to electricity and natural gas customers.

In the complaint issued Dec. 14, state Utilities and Transportation Commission staffers said PSE committed 1,639 violations of state consumer protection rules. Staffers also asked the commission to require the utility to refund customers charged the $13 fee in error.

Officials said a PSE representative could only charge the fee if he or she went to the residence to disconnect service. Under state rules, PSE may not charge a disconnect-visit fee if the utility visits a customer’s home for a purpose other than to disconnect service, such as leaving a 24-hour termination notice or collecting a payment.

The three-member commission is due to schedule a hearing for the complaint. Then, the company has 20 days to respond. The commission could assess PSE as much as $1,000 for each violation. If punished, PSE is not allowed to pass any penalty costs to customers through rates.

Bellevue-based PSE serves more than 1 million electric customers and almost 750,000 natural gas customers in Western Washington, including Issaquah.

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