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Termination of Utility Service Lawyers

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Termination of a utility service can have an immediate effect on your family.  Loss of heat or light can be difficult and inconvenient, especially during certain times of year when the weather temperatures can be extreme.

Why Would a Utility Terminate My Service?

Public utilities have a duty to provide service.  However, if customers do not abide by the utility's rules, the utility has the right to terminate service.  The two most common grounds for termination of service are for:

  • Not making payments on your utility bill; and
  • Tampering with the meter.

What Laws Protect Me against Termination of Service?

The law that permits or forbids the termination of your utility service generally depends on the type of utility you belong to.  If your utility is:

  • Privately owned : State public utility statutes, regulations, and rules apply
  • Municipally owned : There are constitutional limits as to what the utility may do
  • Rural Electric Cooperative (REC) : There are constitutional limits as to what the utility may do as well as the REC's specific rules

In addition, federal consumer protection statutes, state unfair or deceptive practices acts, and federal civil rights statutes may also be of use when attempting to prevent termination of service.

What Does the Constitution Have to Do with Termination of My Service?

The due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires that certain elements of fairness be present in the termination of your utility service.  Generally, you are at least entitled to 10-15 days notice prior to having your service disconnected.

What Protections Do I Have against Termination of My Service?

If you are facing termination of your utility service you may be afforded protection:

  • If you are elderly, seriously ill, or low income, your utility may have a provision preventing disconnection during winter months
  • If you are disputing your bill, the utility cannot terminate your service
  • If the utility discovers they undercharged you, they cannot charge you a lump sum, demand payment and threaten to terminate service

May I Dispute the Termination of My Service?

If your utility service is disconnected, you may be able to go to your public utility commission (PUC).  The PUC typically has the power to decide individual customer disputes with utilities.

Do I Need a Lawyer for my Utility Service Problem?

Termination of utility service can have a devastating effect on your family.  An experienced attorney can help avoid a termination of your utility service.  If you have been injured because of an unjust termination of utility service, a personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 01-23-2013 02:48 PM PST

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