Substitute Senate Bill No. 498
          Substitute Senate Bill No. 498

              PUBLIC ACT NO. 98-254


AN ACT PROTECTING THE CREDIT OF UTILITY CUSTOMERS.


    Be  it  enacted  by  the  Senate  and House of
Representatives in General Assembly convened:
    Section  16-262d  of  the general statutes, as
amended by public act 97-11, is repealed  and  the
following is substituted in lieu thereof:
    (a)  No  electric,  gas,  telephone  or  water
public service company, and no  municipal  utility
furnishing  electric,  gas  or  water  service may
terminate such service to a  residential  dwelling
on  account  of nonpayment of a delinquent account
unless such company  or  municipal  utility  first
gives  notice  of  such  delinquency and impending
termination by first class mail addressed  to  the
customer to which such service is billed, at least
thirteen  calendar  days  prior  to  the  proposed
termination,  except  that  if  an electric or gas
public  service  company  or   municipal   utility
furnishing  electric  or  gas service has issued a
notice  under  this   subsection   but   has   not
terminated  service prior to issuing a new bill to
the customer, such company  or  municipal  utility
may  terminate such service only after mailing the
customer an additional  notice  of  the  impending
termination,  addressed  to  the customer to which
such service is billed either (1) by  first  class
mail  at least thirteen calendar days prior to the
proposed termination or (2) by certified mail,  at
least  seven  calendar  days prior to the proposed
termination. In the event that multiple  dates  of
proposed  termination  are provided to a customer,
no  such  company  or  municipal   utility   shall
terminate  service  prior  to  the  latest of such
dates.  For  purposes  of  this  subsection,   the
thirteen-day  periods  and  seven-day period shall
commence on the date such  notice  is  mailed.  If
such   company   or  municipal  utility  does  not
terminate service within one hundred  twenty  days
after  mailing  the initial notice of termination,
such company or municipal utility shall  give  the
customer a new notice at least thirteen days prior
to termination. Every termination notice issued by
a  public  service  company  or  municipal utility
shall contain or be accompanied by an  explanation
of   the   rights  of  the  customer  provided  in
subsection (c) of this section.
    (b)  No  such  company  or  municipal  utility
shall effect termination of service for nonpayment
during  such time as any resident of a dwelling to
which such service is furnished is seriously  ill,
if  the  fact of such serious illness is certified
to  such  company  or  municipal  utility   by   a
registered  physician  within  such period of time
after the mailing of a termination notice pursuant
to   subsection   (a)   of  this  section  as  the
Department  of  Public  Utility  Control  may   by
regulation establish, provided the customer agrees
to amortize the unpaid balance of his account over
a  reasonable period of time and keeps current his
account for utility service as charges  accrue  in
each subsequent billing period.
    (c)  No  such  company  or  municipal  utility
shall  effect  termination   of   service   to   a
residential  dwelling  for  nonpayment  during the
pendency of any complaint, investigation,  hearing
or  appeal,  initiated  by  a customer within such
period of time after the mailing of a  termination
notice  pursuant to subsection (a) of this section
as said Department of Public Utility  Control  may
by  regulation  establish; provided, any telephone
company during  the  pendency  of  any  complaint,
investigation,  hearing  or  appeal  may terminate
telephone  service  if  the  amount   of   charges
accruing   and   outstanding   subsequent  to  the
initiation  of   any   complaint,   investigation,
hearing  or  appeal exceeds on a monthly basis the
average monthly bill for the previous three months
or  if  the  customer  fails  to  keep current his
telephone account for all  undisputed  charges  or
fails to comply with any amortization agreement as
hereafter provided.
    (d)   Any   customer   who   has  initiated  a
complaint or investigation under subsection (c) of
this  section  shall  be  given an opportunity for
review of such complaint  or  investigation  by  a
review officer of the company or municipal utility
other than a member of such company's or municipal
utility's    credit   department,   provided   the
Department of Public  Utility  Control  may  waive
this  requirement  for  any  company  or municipal
utility employing fewer than twenty-five full-time
employees,     which    review    shall    include
consideration of whether the  customer  should  be
permitted  to  amortize  the unpaid balance of his
account over  a  reasonable  period  of  time.  No
termination  shall  be  effected  for any customer
complying with any  such  amortization  agreement,
provided  such  customer  also  keeps  current his
account for utility service as charges  accrue  in
each subsequent billing period.
    (e)  Any  customer  whose complaint or request
for   an   investigation   has   resulted   in   a
determination  by  a  company or municipal utility
which  is  adverse  to   him   may   appeal   such
determination  to the Department of Public Utility
Control or a  hearing  officer  appointed  by  the
department.
    (f)   If,   following   the   receipt   of   a
termination notice or  the  entering  into  of  an
amortization   agreement,  the  customer  makes  a
payment or payments amounting to twenty  per  cent
of  the  balance  due,  the public service company
shall not terminate service without giving  notice
to the customer, in accordance with the provisions
of this section, of the  conditions  the  customer
must   meet   to   avoid   termination,  but  such
subsequent notice shall not entitle such  customer
to  further investigation, review or appeal by the
company, municipal utility or department.
    (g)  NO  ELECTRIC,  GAS,  TELEPHONE  OR  WATER
PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY  AND  NO  MUNICIPAL UTILITY
FURNISHING ELECTRIC, GAS  OR  WATER  SERVICE SHALL
SUBMIT TO A  CREDIT  RATING  AGENCY, AS DEFINED IN
SECTION   36a-695,   ANY   INFORMATION   ABOUT   A
RESIDENTIAL  CUSTOMER'S NONPAYMENT  FOR  ELECTRIC,
GAS,  TELEPHONE  OR   WATER   SERVICE  UNLESS  THE
CUSTOMER IS MORE  THAN  SIXTY  DAYS  DELINQUENT IN
PAYING FOR SUCH  SERVICE. IN NO EVENT SHALL SUCH A
COMPANY OR MUNICIPAL  UTILITY  SUBMIT  TO A CREDIT
RATING AGENCY ANY  INFORMATION ABOUT A RESIDENTIAL
CUSTOMER'S  NONPAYMENT FOR  SUCH  SERVICE  IF  THE
CUSTOMER HAS INITIATED  A COMPLAINT, INVESTIGATION
HEARING OR APPEAL  WITH  REGARD  TO  SUCH  SERVICE
UNDER  SUBSECTION (c)  OF  THIS  SECTION  THAT  IS
PENDING BEFORE THE DEPARTMENT.

Approved June 8, 1998