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CUSTOMER SERVICE POLICIES
111.01 Application for Service
111.02 Customer Deposits
111.04 Service Disconnection Procedures
111.05 Exceptions to Disconnection of Service
111.06 Customer Obligations
111.07 Customer Services
111.08 Customer Communications
111.09 Customer Privacy
111.01 APPLICATION FOR SERVICE.
- Application Submittal. An application for utility service may be made at the City Offices at 700 7th Street, Hawarden, Iowa. An application may also be submitted by the customer via fax, email or internet. Initial applications cannot be acted upon until a signed application with all required information and any applicable deposits are received. Said application and any attachments thereto shall constitute an agreement between the utility and the applicant. Although a signature shall be required for the initial application, subsequent changes shall be permitted via telephone, email or internet, provided such authority was given by the customer in writing and the proper verification information was provided at the time of the change.
- Application Contents. The application will include the applicant’s voluntary designation of a person or agency to receive a copy of any notice to disconnect service due to the applicant’s nonpayment of a bill or deposit. In order for the application to be complete, the applicant must provide any of the following which they possess (in addition to the above):
- Full names of all occupants of premises over the age of 18 and the designation of the account holder(s)
- Social security number(s)
- Birth date
- Copy of valid driver’s license or other acceptable proof of identity if the applicant has no license
- Telephone number
- Previous address
- Employer name, address and telephone number
- Name, address and telephone number of a relative
- If tenant, name, address and phone number of landlord
- Verification information that could be used to change account service without a signature, if so desired
A deposit may be required as outlined in Section 111.02.
- Approval or Denial of Application for Utility Service. Upon receipt of a completed application, a determination shall be made to approve or deny the application to provide a particular utility service. The Utility reserves the right to deny or refuse service for any of the reasons listed in subsection 4 of this section. The Utility may not deny or refuse service for any of the reasons listed in subsection 5 of this section. If an account holder has entered into a payment agreement or has a past due account, no additional utility service (i.e. telephone or cable features) will be added to the account until the account is current. The customer shall not be required to receive any advance written notice for the denial of an initial utility service request or for an additional service request not previously held by the applicant. However, a written reason for the denial of the service shall be mailed to the customer pursuant to these service rules if contact information is fully provided. The notice shall be considered rendered to the customer when deposited in the U.S. mail with postage prepaid.
- Reasons for Denial of Service.
- In the event of a condition determined by the Utility to be hazardous.
- In the event of customer use of equipment in such a manner as to adversely affect the Utility’s equipment or service to others.
- In the event of tampering with equipment furnished and owned by the Utility.
- In the event of unauthorized use or resale of utility service.
- For violation of or noncompliance with Utility service rules.
- For failure of prospective customer to furnish service equipment, permits, certificates, or rights-of-way specified by the Utility as a condition of receiving service or for failure of prospective customer to fulfill his or her contractual obligations for service or facilities.
- For failure of the customer to permit the Utility reasonable access to its equipment.
- Failure to pay the required deposit, excluding the exception listed in subsection 5 below.
- Benefit of Service Rule: In the case of customers who have been disconnected or for whom credit action is pending, service will not be reconnected or continued in the name of another occupant or user of the premises if the previous customer or any other person liable for payment of the delinquent bill(s) continues to occupy or receive benefit of the service provided at the premises, unless arrangements are made to pay for the unpaid service at the premises. Similarly, new or transferred accounts will not be established for customers who will have co-occupants that will benefit from service so long as they have delinquent accounts. This does not apply to an established account holder with a good credit history who allows a delinquent account holder to reside with said account holder.
- Insufficient Reasons for Denying Service. The following do not constitute cause for refusal of service to a present or prospective customer:
- Delinquency in payment for service by a previous occupant of the premises to be served provided the person was not also receiving benefit of service at that location under the previous account holder.
- Failure to pay for merchandise purchased from the utility.
- Failure to pay for a different type or class of public utility service.
- Failure to pay the bill of another customer as guarantor thereof.
- Failure to pay back bills rendered for under-registration of a meter.
- Failure to pay bill adjustments resulting from an error on the part of the utility.
- Failure to pay for yellow page advertising.
- Use of an auxiliary directory cover.
- Failure to pay for information service not regulated by the board.
- Failure to pay deregulated toll charges.
- Failure of a residential customer to pay a deposit during the period November 1 through April 1 for the location at which he or she has been receiving service. (This does not apply to new or existing customers who have not been receiving service at the location that a utility service is applied for or when adding a new utility service.)
- Failure of a disconnected residential customer to pay the full amount due for past service if financial difficulty is confirmed and the customer is willing to enter into a reasonable agreement to pay the delinquent amount. (This excludes those customers that have already defaulted on a reasonable payment agreement for the same delinquent amount owed.)
- Permitting another occupant of the premises access to the telephone utility service when that other occupant owed an uncollectible bill for service rendered at a different location. (Pertains to telephone service only.)
- Classification of Service and Applicable Rates. At the time utility service is approved, the type of service per utility will be provided according to the applicable rate tables as outlined in Chapter 113, Utility Rates and Fees.
- Service Installation and Authority to Turn On Utilities. All customers will be provided service in a prompt, non-discriminatory manner. Standard installations will be performed no later than three working days after an order has been placed. All other installations will be completed as soon as practical using due diligence. The Utility shall supply service to the applicant in accordance with this service policy and any applicable FCC and IUB rules at a price schedule established by the Utility for the applicant’s appropriate class of service. No person shall have authority to turn on a utility other than a properly authorized City employee. Such authorization shall come from the City Administrator, the Director of Public Works or Telecommunications Director, or their designees.
111.02 CUSTOMER DEPOSITS. A deposit intended to guarantee partial payment of bills for service may be required from either existing or new customers. A person other than the account holder may pay the deposit.
- Criteria For Initial Service Deposits. An initial service deposit may be required of an applicant if any of the following criteria exits:
- Recent past payment history with any City Utility is unsatisfactory.
- The applicant has no, or insufficient, credit history with the City Utilities.
- The applicant has no credit or unsatisfactory credit with another utility provider.
- Incomplete application.
- Criteria For New or Additional Service Deposits. A new or additional deposit may be required of a current customer whose initial deposit has been refunded or is found to be inadequate. The amount of a new or additional customer deposit shall be based on the deposit calculation criteria listed in subsection 3 of this section. A new or additional deposit may be required from customers who meet any of the following criteria:
- The customer has received two 12-day disconnect notices in the last 12 months.
- The customer has two NSF check notices or two ACH Reject notices, or a combination of the two, in the last 12-month period. If the customer has had service less than 12 months, the number of notices will be prorated.
- Diversion of utility services or evidence of fraud in the use of utility services.
- For those that have an existing deposit, where there are large increases in the utility usage resulting in a bill of 20% or more than the initial deposit.
- Utility Deposit Calculation. If it is determined a deposit is necessary, the amount of the deposit will be calculated as provided below:
- Gas, Electric, Water, Sewer and Solid Waste Deposits. The amount of an initial service deposit will be no more than the actual, or estimated, maximum charge for one month’s service in the last 12-month period. A reasonable deposit may be required for a temporary or special occasions. In calculating customer deposits, adjustments may be made by reasonably determining differences in the likely level of energy consumption including number of persons served, changes in the type of service (i.e., residential vs. nonresidential), the installation or removal of energy conservation or alternative energy measures, and utility rate changes or charges. Where the service connection was not previously metered, the maximum charge for one month’s service shall be based on comparable existing service of the same utility.
- Analog and Digital Cable TV, and Telephone Deposits. The amount of an initial service deposit will be as follows:
- Analog and Digital Cable TV – one month’s service for programming and equipment rental, plus all taxes and fees.
- Telephone Local Service – one month’s local service, plus all taxes and fees.
- Telephone Long Distance – actual average usage over previous two months from previous long distance carrier or a minimum of $50.00 ($25.00 per month) if previous usage data does not exist or cannot be obtained. An additional deposit shall be required when the monthly long distance charges exceed the monthly deposit by more than 25% and $20.00.
- Interest On Deposits. Interest at a rate of 2% compounded annually will be paid on deposits from the date of deposit to the date of refund or the billing date of any bill to which the deposit is applied. The date of refund is the date on which the refund or the notice of deposit refund is forwarded to the depositor’s last known address. For telephone deposits the rate shall be as specified by IAC 199 Chapter 22 or 7.5% whichever is less.
- Deposit Receipts. The Utility shall issue a receipt of deposit to each customer from whom a deposit is received, and will also provide a means whereby a depositor may establish claim if the receipt is lost.
- Record of Deposits. The Utility shall maintain a record of all deposits indicating:
- The name and address of the person(s) making deposit or portion thereof.
- The amount and date of the deposit or portion thereof.
- The property location and specific account for which the deposit has been made.
- Each transaction concerning the deposit.
- Refund; Application of Deposits. A deposit will be refunded after 12 consecutive months of prompt payment (which includes eleven timely payments and one automatic forgiveness of late payment). This time may be extended when the Utility has reason to believe that continued retention of the deposit is required to insure the payment for future billings for services. The records of a customer not eligible for a deposit refund on the first deposit anniversary date will be reviewed on subsequent anniversary dates to determine refund eligibility. If necessary, deposits will be applied equally to any unpaid utility of the combined utility group. Upon termination of service, the deposit and accrued interest (if any) less any unpaid billing shall be reimbursed to the person who made the deposit if the remaining deposit balance is greater than $1.00. Deposits made by a third party are intended for the specific property location or service and will be applied to any unpaid utility, telephone or cable bill for which the deposit was originally required. If all bills are paid, the deposit can be returned to the third party.
- Unclaimed Deposits. A record of each unclaimed deposit shall be maintained for at least one year from the date service is terminated. During that period, the Utility will make a reasonable effort to return the deposit. Deposits remaining unclaimed one year after termination of service will be transferred to the State of Iowa in accordance with Chapter 556, Code of Iowa, Disposition of Unclaimed Property.
111.03 BILLING. Customers shall be billed on a monthly basis. Charges for services start immediately after service is activated. The billing period will coincide with the period that utility services, including electric, natural gas, and/or water services, are provided during each billing month. Billing information will only be made available to those individuals designated by the account holder. Charges for all telecommunications services will be billed on a monthly statement that includes telephone and cable services. When a customer is connected or disconnected or the meter reading date causes a given billing period to deviate by more than 10 percent (counting only business days) from the normal meter-reading period, such bill shall be prorated on a daily basis.
- Minimum Bill. The minimum bill provided for in the rate schedule for each class of service will apply to any billing period during which service remains connected and the minimum quantity of service is not used. The minimum bill shall apply to each separate account holder receiving a service to include each individual dwelling unit.
- Billing Form. The following information will be included on the billing form or made available to the customer at the Utility’s customer services office:
- The reading of the meter at the beginning and at the end of the period for which the bill is rendered.
- The dates on which the meter was read at the beginning and end of the billing period.
- The number and kind of units metered.
- The applicable rate schedule or identification of the applicable rate schedule.
- The account balance brought forward and the amount of each net charge for rate-schedule-priced utility service, sales tax, other taxes, franchise fees, late payment charge, and other charges required by the Utility and any regulatory authority and total amount currently due. In the case of prepayment meters, the amount of money collected shall be shown.
- The last date for timely payment will be clearly shown and will not be less than twenty days after the bill is rendered.
- A distinct marking or wording to identify an estimated bill or meter reading.
- A distinct marking to identify a minimum bill.
- Any conversions from meter readings units to billing units, or any calculations to determine billing units from recording or other devices, or any other factors, such as sliding scale or automatic adjustment (e.g., multiplier) and amount of sales tax adjustments used in determining the bill.
- Any other requirements in accordance with Iowa Administrative Code.
As per IAC 19.4(9) as a utility serving fewer than 5000 customers, information regarding Items B, D and H above can be obtained by contacting the utility’s local office at 700-7th Street or calling 712-551-2565.
- Bill Payment Terms. Billed charges will be due and payable when rendered and will be considered past due twenty days from the time the bill is rendered. A bill is considered rendered when deposited in the U.S. Mail with postage prepaid. If delivery is by other than the U.S. Mail, the bill is considered rendered when delivered to the last known address of the party responsible for payment. The last date for timely payment will be clearly shown on the bill and will be not less than 20 days from the date the bill is rendered. A late payment charge of 1.5% per month of the unpaid balance will be assessed on past-due accounts seven calendar days after the due date printed on the bill or the next working day after the seventh day if the seventh day falls on a non-working day at the City Offices. Each account will be granted at least one complete forgiveness of a late payment charge in each calendar year. The customer will be informed of the use of this one-time forgiveness on said customer’s late payment reminder notice, posting on the next bill, by separate mailing or by phone or in person. All over-payment of billings will be refunded to the account holder, unless other arrangements have been made between account holder and City. The normal past due date that appears on the account holder’s utility bill can be adjusted once every 12 months, if necessary, to better coincide with the account holder’s cash flow situation. To qualify, customers must have a consumption of less than 250ccf (gas) and 3000 kWh (electric). The requested change must be in writing and in advance (i.e., not for any currently issued bills). Bills shall be paid by mail, by direct deposit through a financial institution, by deposit in designated receptacles at the City’s business office or in person at the City business office at 700 – 7th Street.
- Partial Payments. Partial payments (including LIHEAP funds) made on accounts that have multiple services, shall be credited to the total bill; partial payments will not be accepted for one specific service. If a combined service account becomes delinquent, all services are subject to disconnection unless the account holder enters into a payment agreement or makes payment in full.
- Returned Checks and Automatic Clearing House Rejects. A service charge of $20.00 per occurrence shall be assessed to any customer whose check is returned unpaid or whose Automatic Clearing House (ACH) payment is rejected by the bank on which it was drawn. The service charge shall be in addition to the late payment penalty if the check is not made good and the service fee not paid prior to the delinquent date of the bill. If two or more checks are dishonored or ACH payments rejected within a six-month period, the Utility may require future payments to be by cash, cashiers check, or money order and may require a new deposit.
- Adjustments of Bills.
- Administrative and Hook-up Errors. An adjustment, refund or back-billing shall be made for any overcharge or undercharge resulting from incorrect reading of the meter, incorrect application of the rate schedule, incorrect meter connection, or other similar reason.
(1) Overcharges. The amount of the overcharge will be refunded or credited to the customer. The time period for which the utility will adjust, refund, or credit the customer’s bill shall not exceed five years.
(2) Undercharges. The bills will be recalculated back to a period not to exceed five years. If the recalculated bills exceed $10.00, the customer may be back-billed for the amount due. Back-billing will be completed within six months of the discovery of the error. If the back-billing creates customer hardship, a reasonable agreement to pay shall be offered. The Utility reserves the right to forego back-billings which it determines are not cost effective.
- Accidental Wastage of Gas or Water. When a customer provides reasonable evidence to the utility that a leak, not resulting from customer negligence, has existed on the customer’s side of the meter, the utility shall estimate the normal usage for each billing period during which the leak is reasonably believed to have existed, not to exceed two months. The bill for each such period shall be recomputed, treating the amount of the above-normal consumption as “lost gas or water.” Lost gas or water shall be billed at the lowest rate on the customer’s rate schedule and the total difference will be credited to the customer’s account.
- Meter Error. Whenever a meter is found to have an average error exceeding the allowable tolerance by more than 2.0 percent, the utility shall adjust a current customer’s bill by issuing a refund/credit or back-billing. The amount of the adjustment shall be calculated on the basis of metering accuracy of one hundred percent and pursuant to the rules of the IUB found in IAC. The adjustment period shall extend from the date the error began. If the time which the error first developed or occurred cannot be definitely determined, it shall be assumed that the error has existed for the shortest time calculated as one-half the time since the meter was installed, or one-half the time elapsed since the last meter test unless otherwise ordered by the utility. The adjustment period shall not exceed six months without the approval of the Utility Division. When a meter is found not to register due to a failure of part or all of the utility equipment, the Utility shall issue an estimated bill according to the rules of the IUB found in IAC.
- Level Payment Plan (Budget Billing). All residential customers or other customers whose consumption is less than 250 CCF (gas) or 3000 kWh (electric) may select a plan of level payments. The plan shall:
- Be offered when the customer initially requests service.
- Have a date of delinquency changeable for cause in writing; such as, but not limited to, fifteen days from approximate date each month upon which income is received by the person responsible for payments.
- Provide for entry into the level payment plan anytime during the calendar year. The month of entry shall be that customer’s anniversary month.
- Have level payments equal to the sum of estimated charges divided by the number of standard billings intervals, all for the next twelve consecutive months.
- Provide for withdrawal from the plan at any time. The account must be balanced before termination or withdrawal, except that the customer may choose to apply an account credit to future service or receive a refund.
- The level payment plan account balance on the anniversary date shall be carried forward and added to the estimated charges for service during the next year, and this total will be the basis for computing the next year’s periodic billing internal level payment amount. The customer shall be given the option of applying any credit to payments of subsequent months’ level payment amounts due or obtaining a refund of any credit in excess of $10. For purposes of this paragraph, the anniversary date account balance shall not carry forward on unpaid level payment bill. Delinquent level payments must be paid up in full as of the anniversary date.
- Have the level payment amount computed at the time of entry into the plan. It may be recomputed on each anniversary date, when requested by the customer, or whenever utility rates or consumption, alone or in combination, result in a new estimate differing by ten percent or more from that in use. When a customer’s payment level is recomputed, the customer shall be notified of the revised payment amount and the reason for the change. The notice shall accompany the monthly bill prior to the bill affected by the revised payment amount.
Regardless of the account balance, a delinquent payment on the level payment plan will subject the customer to the normal procedures for collection and termination of service. However, if the customer has an excess credit balance on said customer’s account over and above normal usage for the entire plan year, a missed payment will be allowed. If the account balance is a credit, the level payment plan shall terminate after not less than 30 days nor more than 60 days of delinquency.
111.04 SERVICE DISCONNECTION PROCEDURES. Disconnection of service to customers for nonpayment of a bill or deposit shall be in accordance with the following procedures:
- The Utility shall make a reasonable attempt to effect collection.
- The Utility shall give written notice to the customer and, where applicable, the person or agency designated by the customer to receive such notice that service will be disconnected if the account is not settled within twelve (12) calendar days from the date of notice. Notice shall include a written summary of the rights and remedies available to avoid disconnection in accordance with IUB mandated language. The written notice shall also include a telephone number where a utility representative qualified to provide additional information about the disconnection can be reached. Each utility representative must provide his or her name to the caller, and have immediate access to the most current and detailed information available concerning the customer’s account and previous contacts with the utility.
- The Utility may allow settlement of the account to include an agreement for payment of the past due amount over a specified period.
- The Utility shall give the customer a reasonable opportunity to dispute the reason for disconnection to the utility. If the matter cannot be satisfactorily resolved, the customer may appeal to the City’s Hearing Officer or to the utility division, as provided in Section 111.08(3).
- If no effort has been made on the part of the customer to pay the past due amount or dispute the account, the Utility shall issue a two-day disconnection notice, with service to be disconnected at the end of the two days. The notice shall be posted on the property and a $10.00 posting fee shall be charged. When disconnecting service, the utility shall make a diligent attempt to contact, by telephone or in person, the individual or agency responsible for payment of the bill to inform the customer of the pending disconnection and his or her rights and remedies. If an attempt at personal or telephone contact is unsuccessful and the customer is living in a rental unit, the utility may attempt to contact the landlord, if known, to determine if the customer is still in occupancy and, if not in occupancy, his or her present location. A landlord so contacted shall also be informed of the date when service may be disconnected.
- For residential customers only, during the period from November 1 to April 1, if the attempt at customer contact fails, the premises shall be posted with a notice informing the customer of the pending disconnection and rights or remedies available to avoid disconnection. The notice shall be posted at least two days prior to disconnection.
- For residential customers only, during the period from November 1 through April 1, the utility shall give the customer twelve days from the date the disconnect notice was mailed to apply to the local community action agency for low-income energy assistance or weatherization assistance as provided in Section 111.05. This applies only to the utility that is the source of heat (electric or gas) and not to the water, solid waste, or telecommunications utility service, which can be disconnected in accordance with subsection 5 above.
- Disconnection of a customer’s service may not take place on a weekend, a holiday, or after 2:00 p.m. unless the utility is prepared to reconnect the same day. A $10.00 disconnection fee or trip charge shall apply if the utility person either physically travels to the premises or does disconnect one or more utilities, per combined utility for delinquent accounts only.
111.05 EXCEPTIONS TO DISCONNECTION OF SERVICE.
- Financial Difficulty. A residential account holder may avoid disconnection by providing confirmation of financial difficulty and entering into a reasonable payment agreement. Payment agreements will be provided as follows:
- A residential customer who has been disconnected or is about to be disconnected due to the inability to pay in full will be offered the opportunity to enter into a reasonable payment agreement as directed by the IUB. The agreement shall be in writing and shall be signed by a party for the utility and by the customer or a party for the customer. A signed copy of the agreement shall be provided to the account holder.
- The utility may require the account holder to provide confirmation of financial difficulty prior to entering into an agreement. Confirmation may be written acknowledgement from the Iowa Department of Social Services, a legal guardian, or another individual or agency at the discretion of the Utility.
- Payment agreements shall include provisions for the payment of current bills pursuant to provisions of a level payment plan.
- Whenever possible, the Utility shall attempt to reach a mutually acceptable payment agreement with the customer. If the attempt fails and the customer offers a payment agreement, which the Utility intends to refuse, the customer shall be provided a written explanation of the reason for refusal within thirty days of the mailing of the initial disconnect notice. A customer may protest the refusal by filing a written complaint, including a copy of the refusal, with the Iowa Utilities Board within ten days after written refusal by the Utility. A reasonable agreement may be amended at the discretion of the Utility upon request of the account holder. Default of the agreement by the customer renders the customer subject to the disconnection in accordance with procedures specified in Section 111.04, except that the twelve-day notice provision shall not apply.
- Failure to enter into a reasonable payment arrangement will result in disconnection as provided in the original notices (without further written notice as permitted by law).
- Weather Forecast. Disconnection of gas and/or electric service to a residential customer who has entered a reasonable payment agreement may not take place, where gas or electricity is used as the only source of space heating or to control or operate the only space heating equipment at the residence, on any day when the National Weather Service forecast for the following 24 hours covering the area in which the residence is located includes a forecast that the temperature will fall below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. In any case where the Utility has posted a disconnect notice in compliance with Section 111.04, but is precluded from disconnecting service because of a National Weather Service forecast, the Utility may immediately proceed with appropriate disconnection procedures, without further notice, when the temperature in the area where the residence is located rises to above 20 degrees Fahrenheit, unless the customer has paid the past due amount in full or is entitled to postponement of disconnection under some other rule. This applies only to gas and/or electric service and shall not apply to water, wastewater, garbage collection or any telecommunication utility service.
- Health of a Resident. Disconnection of a residential customer shall be postponed if the discontinuance of service would present a special danger to the health of any permanent resident of the premises. A special danger to health is indicated if one appears to be seriously impaired and may, because of mental or physical problems, be unable to manage his or her own resources, carry out activities of family living or protect oneself from neglect or hazardous situations without assistance from others. Indicators of an especial danger to health include but are not limited to: age, infirmity, or mental incapacitation; serious illness; physical disability, including blindness and limited mobility; and any other factual circumstances which indicate a severe or hazardous health situation. The utility may require written verification of the special danger to health by a physician or public health official. The written verification shall include: (1) the name of the person endangered, (2) a statement that he or she is a resident of the premises in question, (3) the name, business address, and telephone number of the certifying party, (4) the nature of the health danger and (5) approximately how long the danger will continue. Initial verification may be by telephone if signed written verification is forwarded to the utility within five days. Verification shall postpone disconnection for thirty days; however, the postponement may be extended by a renewal of the verification. In the event service is terminated within fourteen days prior to verification of illness by or for a qualifying resident, service shall be restored to that residence if a proper verification is made thereafter in accordance with the foregoing provisions. The customer must enter into a reasonable agreement for the retirement of the unpaid balance of the account within the first thirty days and keep the current account paid during the period that the unpaid balance is to be retired. This does not apply to any telecommunication utility service.
- Eligibility for Winter Energy Assistance (November 1 – April 1) (For Residential Customers Only). If the utility is informed by the Community Action Agency that the customer’s household may qualify for winter energy assistance or weatherization funds, there shall be no disconnection of service for thirty days from the date of application, to allow the customer time to obtain assistance. Disconnection shall not take place from November 1 through April 1 for a resident who is a head of household and whose eligibility for either the low-income home energy assistance or weatherization assistance program has been certified to the utility by the Community Action Agency. A notice describing availability of energy assistance funds and application procedures shall be published in a local newspaper of general circulation or mailed directly to all residential customers by November 1 of each year by the City. This applies only to gas and electric services, and does not apply to water, wastewater, garbage collection or any telecommunications utility service.
- Disputed Bill. In the event there is a dispute concerning a bill for utility services, the customer may avoid disconnection by prompt payment of the undisputed portion of the bill and by filing a statement with the Utility of the reasons upon which the dispute is based. The Utility will delay disconnection pending settlement of the disputed portion of the bill as outlined in Section 111.04.
111.06 CUSTOMER OBLIGATIONS.
- Acceptance of Service Rules. An application being submitted and signed and such service provided, and/or subsequent usage of the utility service shall obligate a customer to the conditions imposed by this chapter and other service rules contained in this Code of Ordinances, and the owner of the property shall be considered as having expressed his or her consent to be bound by the regulations and requirements contained in such service rules.
- Reading of Meters. Customers are required to read their own meters. Exemptions will be made to those that are physically unable as determined by the Utility or a physician and that do not have someone else residing on the premises that can read the meter. Nonresidential premises shall not be exempted. Meter readings taken by the City shall be charged a $2.00 meter-reading fee for one or more meters. Customers requiring estimated meter readings or meter readings by appointment shall be charged a $5.00 meter reading fee. There is no charge for annual or verification meter readings that are specifically needed by the Utility.
- Damage to Utility Equipment or Facilities. The customer shall not use the equipment or structures of the Utility for reasons other than those incident to normal service, or create a condition likely to interfere with the functions of such equipment and structures, without written consent of the Utility. The customer shall be held responsible for his or her actions which cause damage to or loss of utility equipment.
- Customer Premises; Utility Access. The customer and owner shall grant the Utility, without charge, right-of-way over and on the premises on which equipment and structures of the Utility are located. Access to the equipment and structures shall be granted to the Utility at reasonable times for installation, inspection, testing, repair and other functions necessary for the maintenance of satisfactory service.
- Notice by Customer To Terminate Service. A customer shall give the Utility not less than three business days’ notice, excluding weekends and holidays, prior to final termination of service. Discontinuance of service notice under this section shall be during normal business hours for the Utility’s Business Office at 700 – 7th Street from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, or by calling 712-551-2565 during regular business hours.
- Moving or Altering of Utility Equipment. Equipment owned by the Utility, including but not limited to meters, lines, load management boxes/disconnects, converters, digital converter boxes and Residential Subscriber Units (RSU’s), may not be moved to a location or address other than the location or address where service was installed without prior written authorization from the Utility. Also, only authorized employees may remove, cut, raise or change any facilities belonging to the Utility.
- Attachment of Equipment. Attachment of any unauthorized device to Utility equipment, or modification to the Utility’s equipment or facilities, is prohibited without prior written authorization from the Utility.
- Resale of Service; Providing Utility Service to Others. No account holder, person, occupant or owner of any premises to which a utility service is supplied shall be allowed to provide or resell service of the Utility to other persons, families, buildings, premises, etc. or permit the same to be taken. All service shall be subject to immediate disconnection per IAC. Back-billing shall occur for past minimum charges and any expenses incurred as a result of this illegal activity.
- Prohibited Equipment Installations. No customer-owned equipment or device that interferes in any way with the normal operation of the Utility facilities, including any equipment or device that intercepts or assists in intercepting or receiving any service offered by the Utility, may be installed on either the customer’s wiring or the Utility’s facilities.
- Implementation of Energy Conservation Standards. As a condition of electric or gas service per space heating or cooling, the owner of any building or structure completed after April 1, 1984, intended primarily for human occupancy, must certify to the Utility that the building conforms with the energy conservation requirements of the State of Iowa Building Code (680 IAC 16.800) (3) as amended by 16.800 (4). If compliance is being certified to other State and local agencies, a copy of their certificate form may be provided to the City. Otherwise certification shall be provided on a form provided by the City.
111.07 CUSTOMER SERVICES.
- Customer Assistance Programs.
- Low Income Programs. Customer discounts on telephone service and initial connection fees are available through assistance programs sponsored by the State of Iowa and the Federal government. The amount of the discount will equal the maximum amount authorized by State and Federal regulations. In order to qualify, applicants must demonstrate eligibility for one of the following programs:
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance or Section 8
- Food Stamps
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Qualifying applicants must present verifying documentation of their eligibility for one of the above listed programs within three months of the date the discount is initially granted. It will be the responsibility of the applicant to provide Utility representatives with such documentation within the specified time period. Failure to do so may disqualify the customer from the program.
- Project Share. The City participates in the Project Share Fund whereby anyone can donate to the fund to provide assistance for heating assistance. Any monies collected for Project Share are forwarded to Mid-Sioux Opportunity Inc. for distribution for heating assistance to low-income families.
- Emergency and Temporary Disconnections. The Utility may, upon reasonable notice by a customer, make emergency or temporary disconnects for the customer’s convenience for construction. The customer shall be required to pay the standard temporary disconnect fee of $20.00. Additional fees may also apply for repetitive or complicated requests.
- Service Calls. The customer will be billed for the cost of services not the responsibility of the Utility, as listed below. A minimum service fee of $15.00 shall be charged.
- For a service call requesting the relocation of facilities belonging to the Utility, the customer shall be billed for the direct cost of labor and materials. A deposit equal to the total estimated cost may be required in advance of any construction.
- For service calls requesting temporary relocation of cable lines or other Utility facilities to accommodate movement of buildings or large equipment, the person responsible for the move shall be billed for the total cost of labor and materials. The Utility shall be given a minimum of 72 hours’ advance notice and shall be consulted regarding the route of the move. An advance deposit or cash bond shall be required to cover estimated costs.
- For a service call requesting installation or relocation of facilities belonging to the customer, the customer shall be billed for the total cost of the service call.
- For a service call where the trouble is found to be on the customer’s equipment, the customer will be informed of the problem, but will not be charged for the service call.
- For location of line, there will be no charge.
- The gas utility division shall investigate leak calls, shut-offs and re-light pilot lights without charge to the customer. In providing these services as a convenience to its customers, the Utility, its employees, and/or the City offer no warrant, express or implied, as to the operating condition of the customer’s piping or appliances. For other services, such as adjustments to a customer piping and appliances, the customer shall be required to contact a qualified gas plumber, appliance dealer, and/or contractor.
- Utility Reconnection; Check-in; Turn-on. For simple meter installation or the initial turning on of utility service or reconnection of a utility service for established premises, there shall be a flat service fee of $15.00. An exception is that telecommunications utilities shall not charge any fees for this service except for an account that was disconnected for delinquency that desires to be reconnected.
- Customer Requested Meter Tests and Referee Tests.
- Requested Meter Tests. Upon request by a customer, a utility shall test the meter servicing that customer, except that such tests need not be made more frequently than once in 18 months. A written report of the test results shall be mailed to the customer within ten days of the completed test and a record of each test shall be kept on file at the utility’s office. The Utility shall give the customer or a representative of the customer the opportunity to be present while the test is conducted. If the test finds the meter is accurate within the limits accepted by the utility in its meter inspection and testing program, the utility may charge the customer $25.00 or the cost of conducting the test, whichever is less. The customer shall be advised of any potential charge before the meter is removed for testing.
- Referee Meter Tests. Upon written request by a customer or utility, the utilities board will conduct a referee test of a meter except that such tests need not be made more frequently than once in 18 months. The request shall be accompanied by a $30.00 check or money order made payable to the Utility. Within five days of receipt of the written request and payment, the utilities board shall forward the deposit to the Utility and notify the Utility of the requirement for a test. The Utility shall, within 30 days after notification of the request, schedule the date, time and place of the test with the board and customer. The meter shall not be removed or adjusted before the test and the utility shall furnish all testing equipment and facilities for the test. If the tested meter is found to be more than two percent fast or two percent slow, the deposit will be returned to the party requesting the test and billing adjustments shall be made as required. The board shall issue its report within 15 days after the test is conducted, with a copy to the customer and the Utility.
- Customer Assistance with Abnormal Utility Consumption. A customer whose utility consumption appears to the customer to be abnormally high may request the Utility to provide assistance in identifying the factors contributing to this usage pattern and to suggest remedial measures. The Utility shall provide assistance by discussing patterns of utility usage which may be readily identifiable, suggest that an energy audit be conducted (if available), and identify sources of energy information and financial assistance which may be available to the customer.
111.08 CUSTOMER COMMUNICATIONS.
- Utility Customer Service Representatives. A Utility customer service representative charged with customer communication must give his or her name to the customer, whether communication is in person or by telephone. The representative must have immediate access to the most current detailed information available concerning the customer’s account and previous contact with the Utility and shall be properly qualified and instructed in the screening and prompt handling of complaints.
- Telephone and Other Contact Information. The Utility’s main telephone number (712-551-2565) is staffed during the business hours of 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (excluding holidays), to handle routine business questions and other communications. Utility emergencies can be reported to this same number, which is attended after normal business hours for the handling of problems or complaints of an emergency nature.
- Complaint Procedure. Complaints concerning the charges, practices, facilities, or service of the Utility shall be investigated promptly and thoroughly. The Utility shall keep records of written complaints sufficient to enable review and analysis of its procedures and actions. Customers are required to submit previously unresolved verbal complaints in writing with the following information:
- Name of complainant.
- Address of complainant.
- Telephone number of complainant.
- Nature of the complaint.
- Relief sought.
Initial contact by a customer regarding a complaint shall be made with the customer service representative of the Utility. The complaint may be pursued with the appropriate supervisor or the appropriate manager, in that order, if the customer is not satisfied with the handling of the complaint. A written complaint may be filed with the City Administrator as Hearing Officer if the customer is not satisfied with the supervisor or manager’s handling of the complaint. The Hearing Officer shall then establish a hearing date of the complaint. A customer who is unable to travel need not appear before any Utility official described in this section to explain the nature of the complaint. The customer may do so by telephone, via email, in writing, or in some other mutually agreeable fashion. During the hearing, each side may present information or evidence regarding his or her side of the issue. The hearing officer shall weigh the facts in the case in accordance with the City of Hawarden service rules and Iowa Law with a written decision and any applicable findings. The hearing officer’s decision may be appealed to the Iowa Utility Board as provided below. In the absence of the City Administrator, the Mayor shall serve as the Hearing Officer. If the Utility does not resolve the complaint, the customer may request assistance from the Utilities Division of the Department of Commerce by calling or writing: Utility Division, Department of Commerce, 350 Maple Street, Des Moines, IA 50319, telephone number (515)-281-3839 or 877-565-4450. Complaints involving policies or actions of the Utility that are regulated by the IUB may also be filed with the IUB in accordance with applicable regulations.
111.09 CUSTOMER PRIVACY. The Utility shall abide by the limitations imposed upon operators in the use, collection and disclosure of personally identifiable customer information by the Privacy Act, FCC, IUB, and any other State or Federal Regulatory Agency.
- Disclosure of Information. The disclosure of personally identifiable customer information to a third party shall only occur if the customer provides written or electronic consent in advance, or if disclosure is necessary to render communications services and related business activities, or if disclosure is required pursuant to a court order and the customer is notified of such order. In addition, these records may be available to employees, agents, and contractors of the Utility to install, market, provide or audit utility services and to measure usage and customer satisfaction and to provide customers with information concerning utility-related products and services offered by third parties. Information may also be made available to suppliers and outside auditors to check our records whenever such audits are required; to attorneys and accountants on a continuous basis as necessary to render service to the Utility; to representatives of governmental taxing, or regulatory authorities in furtherance of our legitimate business activities; and to collection services if required to collect past due bills at such time as bills are submitted for collection.
- Retention of Customer Information. Retention of personally identifiable customer information shall be discontinued when it no longer serves a legitimate business purpose or required by law. Some documents such as work orders and involuntary disconnects shall be kept as required by law.
- Involuntary Disclosure of Information. Court ordered disclosure of personally identifiable customer information shall be provided to authorities.
- Information Inspection. Inspection of each customer’s own personal identifiable customer information shall be permitted during normal office hours. Customers shall have the right to request the correction of any inaccurate information they believe to be inaccurate.
- Legal Remedies. Customers shall have the right to seek all other legal remedies available to them.
For definitions of terms used in this chapter, see Chapter 110.
For Supplemental Water Service Policies, see Chapter 90.
For Supplemental Sanitary Sewer Service Policies, see Chapter 95 and Chapter 96.
For additional General Service Policies, see Chapter 112.
For Utility Rates and Fees, see Chapter 113.