Ratepayers' rights take effect today

Mississippians now have a formal list of 21 rights designed to ensure fair treatment when dealing with utilities.
The recently passed Ratepayers’ Bill of Rights, approved in August, takes effect today.
“Tomorrow is a historic day for utility consumers in Mississippi,” Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley of Nettleton said in a news release Friday.
“I think the Ratepayers’ Bill of Rights is a giant step in the right direction for the people of Mississippi who have to pay utility bills and sometimes feel that the word ‘customer’ has been taken out of customer service.”
The three-member commission, which Presley chairs, approved the rights on Aug. 3 to help consumers in utility-related dealings such as service, payments and access to information.
Among the rights:
* The utility cannot discontinue service for nonpayment on any Saturday, Sunday or holiday it observes unless it can accept payment and restore service on those days.
* Ratepayers can get a written notice from the utility at least five days before service is discontinued.
* Service can’t be discontinued or refused for a customer because a former occupant of the dwelling, and not of the same household, failed to pay an earlier bill.
* Ratepayers can watch or listen to PSC hearings in the commission’s courtroom via the Internet.
“This bill guarantees basic, humane treatment of customers by many utilities that have no competition,” Presley said.

For more information
- A copy of the Ratepayers’ Bill of Rights can be found at the PSC’s website
www.psc.state.ms.us or by calling Commissioner Brandon Presley’s office at (800) 356-6428 or (800) 637-7722.

NEMS Daily Journal