Administrative Code

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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 20. Public Utilities and Telecommunications
Agency 5. State Corporation Commission
Chapter 305. Rules for Electricity and Natural Gas Submetering and for Energy Allocation Equipment
8/6/2020

20VAC5-305-90. Billing for Apartment Houses, Office Buildings, and Shopping Centers.

Bills shall be rendered for the same billing period as that of the utility, generally monthly, unless service is rendered for more or less than that period. Bills shall be calculated and rendered as promptly as possible following receipt by the owner of the bill from the utility, but no later than 15 days after receipt of the utility's bill. The submetering or energy allocation equipment shall be read within three business days of the scheduled reading date of the utility's master meter.

For submetering, the unit of measurement shall be the energy unit as defined in 20VAC5-305-10. For energy allocation equipment, the units of measurement shall be those characteristics monitored by the allocation equipment.

The energy billed to any tenant shall be only the energy consumed within that dwelling or nonresidential rental unit and so measured or monitored by the equipment. The cost of energy used in owner-paid areas may only be recovered by the owner as provided in the last paragraph of this section, and may not be billed to any tenant as part of the billings rendered pursuant to this chapter and may not be measured through the dwelling or nonresidential rental unit submetering or energy allocation equipment. Where tenant lease agreements have made such provision, energy costs for usage consumed within the dwelling unit or nonresidential rental unit, that are not allocated by energy allocation equipment, may be allocated by the owner among the various tenants in the same proportions as the leased space square footage. These costs shall be listed separately from energy billings based on energy allocation equipment, and appropriately marked on the monthly tenant bills.

The owner shall render bills to the tenant in the same energy unit or units as billed the owner by the utility.

The tenant's bills shall be calculated in the following manner:

After receipt of the electric or natural gas bill from the utility, by the owner, said owner shall divide the "total current charges" by the total number of energy units billed by the utility to determine the average cost in cents per energy unit. The average energy unit cost shall be multiplied by each tenant's energy unit consumption to obtain the tenant's monthly charges.

For the purposes of computing the average cost per energy unit, the "total current charges" shall include/exclude the following, as applicable:

Include:

1. Customer, demand, commodity, and energy charges.

2. Fuel adjustment charge.

3. Purchased gas adjustment.

4. Local taxes.

5. Surcharges, i.e. interim rate relief, unrecovered deferred fuel, temporary energy surcharge.

6. Facilities charge.

Exclude:

a. Miscellaneous charges, e.g. charges by the utility for late payments.

b. Outdoor and security lighting charges.

c. Merchandise charges.

The owner may impose a service charge in accordance with § 56-245.3 of the Code of Virginia per dwelling or nonresidential rental unit per month to offset the administrative cost of billing.

The tenant's bill shall show all of the following information:

1. The dates and readings of the submetering or energy allocation equipment at the beginning and at the end of the period for which the bill is rendered and the billing date.

2. The number of energy units consumed during the current billing period.

3. The average cost in cents per energy unit used in computing the bill.

4. The amount due for electricity or natural gas consumed, within the dwelling unit or nonresidential rental unit, the administrative service charge, if any, the balance forward, and the total amount due.

5. The name or address, or both, of the tenant to whom the bill is applicable.

6. The name of the firm rendering the tenant's bill and the name or title, address, and telephone number of the person or persons where payment can be made and, also, who to contact in the case of any questions or disputes concerning the bill.

7. A precise statement that the bill is not from the utility providing service to the apartment house, office building, or shopping center.

Bills will be mailed or delivered to the tenant's premises within three business days after the billing date.

Estimated bills shall not be rendered unless the meter or energy allocation equipment has been tampered with, is out of order, or access cannot be attained, and in such case, the bill shall be distinctly marked "estimated." Such estimates shall be based upon one of the following:

1. On consumption or a similar billing period where the information of previous consumption is available; or

2. In the event that a tenant has not lived on the premises for one year and, therefore, consumption for a similar billing period is not available, the preceding billing period shall be used; or

3. If available, the average of the preceding two billing periods shall be used as a basis for estimates.

Adjustment to the tenant's bills shall be made under any of the following conditions:

a. Any billing errors due to incorrect readings or improper billing calculations discovered by the owner on his own initiative or discovered as a result of an investigation because of a question or a dispute by a tenant;

b. It is determined that a cross-metering situation exists. The tenants involved will be rendered corrected bills to cover such period of time as the statute of limitations allows. If a tenant has been underbilled, he shall be allowed to make payment of the amount underbilled in equal monthly installments for as many months as the corrected bill covers, but for not more than 10 months, the entire amount underbilled being due upon termination of tenancy. If a tenant has been overbilled and is due a credit, if he wishes a cash refund, it shall be made, otherwise such credit shall be posted to the tenant's account;

c. The utility adjusts the owner's bill; or

d. As detailed in 20VAC5-305-40 (Submetering).

Nothing contained in this chapter shall prohibit the owner from recovery in periodic lease payments the tenant's fair share of electricity or natural gas cost attributable to owner-paid areas and costs incurred in establishing and maintaining the submetering system or energy allocation equipment.

Statutory Authority

§§ 12.1-13 and 56-245.3 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Case No. PUE920067 §I, eff. July 1, 1993; amended, Volume 29, Issue 10, eff. January 1, 2013.

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