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WAC 480-100-143

Winter low-income payment program.

(1) During the winter months, between November 15th and March 15th, an electric utility may not discontinue residential space heating service if the customer does all of the following:
(a) Notifies the utility of the inability to pay the bill and any required deposit. This notice should be provided within five business days of receiving a delinquency notice unless there are extenuating circumstances. If the customer does not notify the utility within five business days and service is disconnected, the customer can receive the protections of this chapter, by paying reconnection charges, if any, and by otherwise fulfilling the requirements of this section;
(b) Provides self-certification of household income for the prior twelve months to a grantee of the department of community, trade, and economic development or its successor. For the purposes of this section, the grantee is a contractor operating low-income energy assistance programs for the department of community, trade, and economic development. The grantee will determine that the household income is not higher than the maximum allowed for eligibility under the state's plan for low-income energy assistance. The grantee will, within thirty days, provide a dollar figure to the utility that is seven percent of the household income. For the purposes of this section, household income is defined as the total income of all household members as determined by the grantee. The grantee may verify information provided in the self-certification;
(c) Applies for home energy assistance from appropriate government and/or private sector organizations and certifies that any assistance received will be applied to the customer's current and future utility bills;
(d) Applies to the utility or other appropriate agencies for low-income weatherization assistance if such assistance is available for the dwelling;
(e) Agrees and abides by that agreement to:
(i) Pay by the following October 15th all amounts owed to the utility and pay for continued service; and
(ii) Pay a monthly payment during the winter period. The utility may not require payment of more than seven percent of the customer's monthly income. In addition, the customer must pay one-twelfth of any billings from the date application is made through March 15th. A customer may agree to pay a higher percentage of income during this period, but the customer's account will not be considered past-due unless payment during this period is less than seven percent of the monthly income plus one-twelfth of any past-due amounts accrued from the date application is made and thereafter. If the customer does not pay the past-due bill by the following October 15th, the customer will not be eligible for protections under this section until the past-due bill is paid;
(f) Notifies and provides documentation to the utility, if requested, that the customer has received any home heating assistance payment from government and/or private sector organizations after being approved for the plan. When the utility receives this information it must recalculate the payments for the customer; and
(g) Pays all amounts owed even if the customer moves.
(2) The utility:
(a) Must help the customer to fulfill the requirements under this section;
(b) Must transfer an account to a new residence when a customer who has established a plan under this section moves from one residence to another within the utility's service area;
(c) May disconnect service in accordance with WAC 480-100-128, Disconnection of service, if the customer has not kept the payment arrangements as described in subsection (1) of this section. The utility must include in the customer's disconnection notice:
(i) A description of the customer's duties outlined in subsection (1) of this section; and
(ii) An explanation that the utility must restore service if the customer contacts the utility and satisfies the other requirements of this section;
(d) May disconnect service for practices authorized by law other than for nonpayment as stated in this section;
(e) Must allow customers who qualified under subsection (1) of this section and who default on their payment plan and are disconnected in accordance with WAC 480-100-128, Disconnection of service, to reconnect and maintain the protection afforded under this chapter when the customer:
(i) Pays any reconnection charges; and
(ii) Pays all amounts that would have been due and owing on the date the service is reconnected; and
(f) Must provide a written copy of the extended payment plan to the customer.
(3) Any customer who has a past-due amount owing under this payment plan will not be eligible to reapply for a new extended payment plan unless authorized by the utility.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 80.01.040 and 80.04.160. WSR 01-11-004 (Docket No. UE-990473, General Order No. R-482), ยง 480-100-143, filed 5/3/01, effective 6/3/01.]
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