Customer Rights and Responsibilities
The Department’s goal is to ensure that Long Island energy customers receive the same level of oversight as the rest of the state. DPS-LI will oversee general rights, service terminations and special protections for vulnerable customers such as elderly, blind, disabled and those on life-support systems.
General Service Rights
- DPS toll-free emergency hotline
- Open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on business days to assist customers regarding initiation, threat of termination, or reconnection of service.
- Application of service
- Service must be provided within five business days after applying (subject to certain conditions).
- Customers must be given a summary of rights and obligations when service is initiated and at least annually thereafter.
- Security deposits are generally not required when opening an account unless the customer is a short term, seasonal or has an outstanding balance on a previous account. Existing customers may be asked to pay a deposit if an amount is delinquent or if they were disconnected for payment in the last 6 months.
- Payment for service
- Late payment charges on unpaid balances are limited to no more than 1.5% monthly (18% annually).
- Customers must be given the option to pay overdue bills in fair and reasonable installments.
- A friend or relative may be designated to receive copies of notices relating to service termination or credit actions. This third party is not responsible for the bill.
- Failure pay overdue bills may result in electric service being shut off
- Service may not be disconnected unless the service provider has given the customer a final notice in writing and has waited 15 days to allow the customer to pay the bill or make an agreement on the overdue amount.
- Shutoffs are only allowed between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, excluding holidays, the day before a holiday, and the two week period encompassing Christmas and New Year’s Day.
- If a customer lives in an apartment building and the landlord fails to pay a utility bill, the utility must provide notice to the tenant regarding the landlord’s nonpayment and the utility’s intention to shut off service. The notice will explain how to contact the utility to work out a way to avoid service disconnection, even if the landlord refuses to make payments.
- Medical Emergencies
- If the customer or someone in the household has a serious illness or medical condition that will be aggravated by the termination of electric service, service may not be shut off if the customer provides certification by a doctor or local board of health.
- If the condition continues for more than 30 days, the doctor may be required to renew the certificate, and the customer will need to demonstrate their inability to pay. If the electric service is required to operate a life-support system, the medical certificate remains in effect until terminated by the DPS. However, every three months the customer must show the service provider why they can’t pay their bill. The provider will code the customer’s account to ensure service is maintained.
- Medical Emergencies-Life Support Systems
- For a customer or a resident of the customer’s premises who suffers from a medical condition requiring electric service to operate a life-sustaining device, such as a iron lung or a dialysis machine, certification by a medical doctor or qualified official of a local board of health shall remain effective until terminated by the DPS-LI or its designee, provided the residential customer demonstrates an inability to pay charges for service on not less than a quarterly basis.
- PSEG-LI shall not terminate, disconnect or suspend service to a residential customer after the expiration of a certification of a medical emergency or after the utility determines that the customer has an ability to pay for service without sending a final notice of termination or disconnection or suspension 15 days prior to the date.
- Customer remains liable for payment of electric service while certification of medical emergency is in effect. Customer shall make reasonable effort to pay charges for service.
- Authorized designees of the DPS-LI shall be available to offer assistance to PSEG-LI and customers for working out equitable payment arrangements in order to avoid substantial arrears at the end of the medical emergency.
- Elderly, Blind or Disabled
- If a customer is blind, disabled or 62 or older and all remaining residents of the household are 62 or older, 18 or younger, or blind or disabled, the utility will make special attempts to contact the customer before and after shutting off service. Customers who meet the qualifications must notify PSEG-LI so that service will not be canceled by mistake.
- Cold Weather Protections
- Between November 1 and April 15, the service provider must make a special effort to determine whether terminating heat-related service will result in serious health or safety issues.