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RULE §24.165Billing

  (3) calculation of bills for unmetered consumption over the entire period of meter bypassing or other service diversion, if the amount of actual unmetered consumption can be calculated by industry recognized testing procedures; or

  (4) a reasonable adjustment is made to the sewer bill if a water leak can be documented during the winter averaging period and winter average water use is the basis for calculating a customer's sewer charges. If the actual water loss can be calculated, the consumption shall be adjusted accordingly. If not, the prior year average can be used if available. If the actual water loss cannot be calculated and the customer's prior year's average is not available, then a typical average for other customers on the system with similar consumption patterns may be used.

(o) Equipment damage charges. A utility may charge for all labor, material, equipment, and all other actual costs necessary to repair or replace all equipment damaged due to negligence, meter tampering or bypassing, service diversion, or the discharge of wastes that the system cannot properly treat. The utility may charge for all actual costs necessary to correct service diversion or unauthorized taps where there is no equipment damage, including incidents where service is reconnected without authority. An itemized bill of such charges must be provided to the customer. A utility may not charge any additional penalty or any other charge other than actual costs unless such penalty has been expressly approved by the commission and filed in the utility's tariff. Except in cases of meter tampering or service diversion, a utility may not disconnect service of a customer refusing to pay damage charges unless authorized to in writing by the commission.

(p) Fees. Except for an affected county, utilities may not charge disconnect fees, service call fees, field collection fees, or standby fees except as authorized in this chapter.

  (1) A utility may only charge a developer standby fees for unrecovered costs of facilities committed to a developer's property under the following circumstances:

    (A) under a contract and only in accordance with the terms of the contract;

    (B) if service is not being provided to a lot or lots within two years after installation of facilities necessary to provide service to the lots has been completed and if the standby fees are included on the utility's approved tariff after a rate change application has been properly filed. The fees cannot be billed to the developer or collected until the standby fees have been approved by the commission; or

    (C) for purposes of this subsection, a manufactured housing rental community can only be charged standby fees under a contract or if the utility installs the facilities necessary to provide individually metered service to each of the rental lots or spaces in the community.

  (2) Except as provided in §24.167(h)(2) and §24.169(c) of this title other fees listed on a utility's approved tariff may be charged when appropriate. Return check charges included on a utility's approved tariff may not exceed the utility's documentable cost.

(q) Payment with cash. When a customer pays any portion of a bill with cash, the utility shall issue a written receipt for the payment.

(r) Voluntary contributions for certain emergency services.

  (1) A utility may implement as part of its billing process a program under which the utility collects from its customers a voluntary contribution including a voluntary membership or subscription fee, on behalf of a volunteer fire department or an emergency medical service. A utility that collects contributions under this section shall provide each customer at the time the customer first becomes a customer, and at least annually thereafter, a written statement:

    (A) describing the procedure by which the customer may make a contribution with the customer's bill payment;

    (B) designating the volunteer fire department or emergency medical service to which the utility will deliver the contribution;

    (C) informing the customer that a contribution is voluntary;

    (D) if applicable, informing the customer the utility intends to keep a portion of the contributions to cover related expenses; and

    (E) describing the deductibility status of the contribution under federal income tax law.

  (2) A billing by the utility that includes a voluntary contribution under this section must clearly state that the contribution is voluntary and that it is not required to be paid.

  (3) The utility shall promptly deliver contributions that it collects under this section to the designated volunteer fire department or emergency medical service, except that the utility may keep from the contributions an amount equal to the lesser of:

    (A) the utility's expenses in administering the contribution program; or

    (B) 5.0% of the amount collected as contributions.

  (4) Amounts collected under this section are not rates and are not subject to regulatory assessments, late payment penalties, or other utility related fees, are not required to be shown in tariffs filed with the regulatory authority, and non-payment may not be the basis for termination of service.

Source Note: The provisions of this §24.165 adopted to be effective October 17, 2018, 43 TexReg 6826

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