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TITLE 16ECONOMIC REGULATION
PART 2PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION OF TEXAS
CHAPTER 25SUBSTANTIVE RULES APPLICABLE TO ELECTRIC SERVICE PROVIDERS
SUBCHAPTER RCUSTOMER PROTECTION RULES FOR RETAIL ELECTRIC SERVICE PROVIDERS
RULE §25.483Disconnection of Service

(a) Disconnection and reconnection policy. Only a transmission and distribution utility (TDU), municipally owned utility, or electric cooperative shall perform physical disconnections and reconnections. Unless otherwise stated, it is the responsibility of a retail electric provider (REP) to request such action from the appropriate TDU, municipally owned utility, or electric cooperative in accordance with that entity's relevant tariffs, in accordance with the protocols established by the registration agent, and in compliance with the requirements of this section. If a REP chooses to have a customer's electric service disconnected, it shall comply with the requirements in this section. Nothing in this section requires a REP to request that a customer's service be disconnected.

(b) Disconnection authority.

  (1) Any REP may authorize the disconnection of a medium non-residential or large non-residential customer, as that term is defined in §25.43 of this title (relating to Provider of Last Resort (POLR)).

  (2) Except as provided in subsection (d) of this section, all REPs shall have the authority to authorize the disconnection of residential and small non-residential customers pursuant to commission rules. Prior to authorizing disconnections for non-payment in accordance with this paragraph, a REP shall:

    (A) test all necessary electronic transactions related to disconnections and reconnections of service; and

    (B) file an affidavit from an officer of the company, in a project established by the commission for this purpose, affirming that the REP understands and has trained its personnel on the commission's rule requirements related to disconnection and reconnection, and has adequately tested the transactions described in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph.

(c) Disconnection with notice. A REP having disconnection authority under the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, including the POLR, may authorize the disconnection of a customer's electric service after proper notice and not before the first day after the disconnection date in the notice for any of the following reasons:

  (1) failure to pay any outstanding bona fide debt for electric service owed to the REP or to make deferred payment arrangements by the date of disconnection stated on the disconnection notice. Payment of the delinquent bill at the REP's authorized payment agency is considered payment to the REP;

  (2) failure to comply with the terms of a deferred payment agreement made with the REP;

  (3) violation of the REP's terms and conditions on using service in a manner that interferes with the service of others or the operation of nonstandard equipment, if a reasonable attempt has been made to notify the customer and the customer is provided with a reasonable opportunity to remedy the situation;

  (4) failure to pay a deposit as required by §25.478 of this title (relating to Credit Requirements and Deposits); or

  (5) failure of the guarantor to pay the amount guaranteed, when the REP has a written agreement, signed by the guarantor, which allows for disconnection of the guarantor's service.

(d) Disconnection without prior notice. Any REP or TDU may, at any time, authorize disconnection of a customer's electric service without prior notice for any of the following reasons:

  (1) Where a known dangerous condition exists for as long as the condition exists. Where reasonable, given the nature of the hazardous condition, the REP, or its agent, shall post a notice of disconnection and the reason for the disconnection at the place of common entry or upon the front door of each affected residential unit as soon as possible after service has been disconnected;

  (2) Where service is connected without authority by a person who has not made application for service;

  (3) Where service is reconnected without authority after disconnection for nonpayment;

  (4) Where there has been tampering with the equipment of the transmission and distribution utility, municipally owned utility, or electric cooperative; or

  (5) Where there is evidence of theft of service.

(e) Disconnection prohibited. A REP having disconnection authority under the provisions of subsection (b) of this section shall not authorize a disconnection for nonpayment of a customer's electric service for any of the following reasons:

  (1) Delinquency in payment for electric service by a previous occupant of the premises;

  (2) Failure to pay for any charge that is not for electric service regulated by the commission, including competitive energy service, merchandise, or optional services;

  (3) Failure to pay for a different type or class of electric service unless charges for such service were included on that account's bill at the time service was initiated;

  (4) Failure to pay charges resulting from an underbilling, except theft of service, more than six months prior to the current billing;

  (5) Failure to pay disputed charges, except for the amount not under dispute, until a determination as to the accuracy of the charges has been made by the REP or the commission, and the customer has been notified of this determination;

  (6) Failure to pay charges arising from an underbilling due to any faulty metering, unless the meter has been tampered with or unless such underbilling charges are due under §25.126 of this title (relating to Adjustments Due to Non-Compliant Meters and Meter Tampering in Areas Where Customer Choice Has Been Introduced); or

  (7) Failure to pay an estimated bill other than a bill rendered pursuant to an approved meter-reading plan, unless the bill is based on an estimated meter read by the TDU.

(f) Disconnection on holidays or weekends.

  (1) A REP having disconnection authority under the provisions of subsection (b) of this section shall not request disconnection of a customer's electric service for nonpayment on a holiday or weekend, or the day immediately preceding a holiday or weekend, unless the REP's personnel are available on those days to take payments, make payment arrangements with the customer, and request reconnection of service.

  (2) Unless a dangerous condition exists or the customer requests disconnection, a TDU shall not disconnect a customer's electric service on a holiday or weekend, or the day immediately preceding a holiday or weekend, unless the personnel of the TDU are available to reconnect service on all of those days.

(g) Disconnection of Critical Care Residential Customers. A REP having disconnection authority under the provisions of subsection (b) of this section shall not authorize a disconnection for nonpayment of electric service at a permanent, individually metered dwelling unit of a delinquent Critical Care Residential Customer when that customer establishes that disconnection of service will cause some person at that residence to become seriously ill or more seriously ill.

  (1) Each time a Critical Care Residential Customer seeks to avoid disconnection of service under this subsection, the customer shall accomplish all of the following by the stated date of disconnection:

    (A) Have the person's attending physician (for purposes of this subsection, the "physician" shall mean any public health official, including medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, and any other similar medical professional) contact the REP to confirm that the customer is a Critical Care Residential Customer;

    (B) Have the person's attending physician submit a written statement to the REP confirming that the customer is a Critical Care Residential Customer; and

    (C) Enter into a deferred payment plan.

  (2) The prohibition against service disconnection of a Critical Care Residential Customer provided by this subsection shall last 63 days from the issuance of the bill for electric service or a shorter period agreed upon by the REP and the customer, emergency (secondary) contact listed on the commission-approved application form, or attending physician. If the Critical Care Residential Customer does not accomplish the requirements of paragraph (1) of this subsection:

    (A) The REP shall provide written notice to the Critical Care Residential Customer and the emergency contact listed on the commission-approved application form of its intention to disconnect service not later than 21 days prior to the date that service would be disconnected. Such notice shall be a separate mailing or hand delivered notice with a stated date of disconnection with the words "disconnection notice" or similar language prominently displayed. If the REP has offered and the customer has agreed for the customer and/or emergency contact to receive disconnection notices from the REP by email, a separate email with the words "disconnection notice" or similar language in the subject line shall be sent in addition to the separate mailing or hand delivered notice. Except as provided in this subsection, the notice shall comply with the requirements of subsections (l) and (m) of this section; and

    (B) Prior to disconnecting a Critical Care Residential Customer, a TDU shall contact the customer and the emergency contact listed on the commission-approved application form. If the TDU does not reach the customer and emergency contact by phone, the TDU shall visit the premises, and, if there is no response, shall leave a door hanger containing the pending disconnection information and information on how to contact the REP and TDU.

  (3) If, in the normal performance of its duties, a TDU obtains information that a customer scheduled for disconnection may qualify for delay of disconnection pursuant to this subsection, and the TDU reasonably believes that the information may be unknown to the REP, the TDU shall delay the disconnection and promptly communicate the information to the REP. The TDU shall disconnect such customer if it subsequently receives a confirmation of the disconnect notice from the REP. Nothing herein should be interpreted as requiring a TDU to assess or to inquire as to the customer's status before performing a disconnection when not otherwise required.

  (4) If a TDU refuses to disconnect a Critical Care Residential Customer pursuant to this subsection, it shall cease charging all transmission and distribution charges and surcharges, except securitization-related charges, for that premises to the REP.

(h) Disconnection of Chronic Condition Residential Customers. A REP having disconnection authority under the provisions of subsection (b) of this section shall not authorize a disconnection for nonpayment of electric service at a permanent, individually metered dwelling unit of a delinquent customer when that customer has been designated as a Chronic Condition Residential Customer pursuant to §25.497 of this title (relating to Critical Load Industrial Customers, Critical Load Public Safety Customers, Critical Care Residential Customers, and Chronic Condition Residential Customers), except as provided in this subsection. The REP shall notify the Chronic Condition Residential Customer and the emergency contact listed on the commission-approved application form with a written notice of its intention to disconnect service not later than 21 days prior to the date that service would be disconnected. Such notice shall be a separate mailing or hand delivered notice with a stated date of disconnection with the words "disconnection notice" or similar language prominently displayed. If the REP has offered and the customer has agreed for the customer and/or emergency contact to receive disconnection notices from the REP by email, a separate email with the words "disconnection notice" or similar language in the subject line shall be also be sent in addition to the separate mailing or hand delivered notice. Except as provided in this subsection, the notice shall comply with the requirements of subsections (l) and (m) of this section.

(i) Disconnection of energy assistance clients.

  (1) A REP having disconnection authority under the provisions of subsection (b) of this section shall not authorize a disconnection for nonpayment of electric service to a delinquent residential customer for a billing period in which the REP receives a pledge, letter of intent, purchase order, or other notification that the energy assistance provider is forwarding sufficient payment to continue service provided that such pledge, letter of intent, purchase order, or other notification is received by the due date stated on the disconnection notice, and the customer, by the due date on the disconnection notice, either pays or makes payment arrangements to pay any outstanding debt not covered by the energy assistance provider.

  (2) If an energy assistance provider has requested monthly usage data pursuant to §25.472(b)(4) of this title (relating to Privacy of Customer Information), the REP shall extend the final due date on the disconnection notice, day for day, from the date the usage data was requested until it is provided.

  (3) A REP shall allow at least 45 days for an energy assistance provider to honor a pledge, letter of intent, purchase order, or other notification before submitting the disconnection request to the TDU.

Cont'd...

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