Administrative Code

Virginia Administrative Code

Chapter 10. In General

20VAC5-10-10. Rules on meter testing, bad check charges and late payment charges.

A. Meter Testing - Each public utility providing gas or electric service shall provide one free meter test during any 24 month period for any of its Virginia customers requesting same. For each additional test which may be requested during such period, the customer shall be required to deposit a reasonable sum of money with the utility to offset the cost of the test. If any additional requested test made during the aforesaid period reveals meter error greater than 102%, or less than 98%, of actual consumption, the deposit required herein shall be refunded; otherwise, the deposit shall be retained by the utility for the purpose aforesaid.

B. Bad Check Charge - Each public utility subject to the jurisdiction of the State Corporation Commission may impose and collect a service charge for every check received in payment of a customer's account, which check is lawfully dishonored by the payor bank. Provided, however, the service charge shall be uniformly applied to all customers of each utility and shall be based upon the estimated aggregate additional cost of handling dishonored checks, but, in no event, shall the individual charge exceed $6.00.

C. Late Payment Charge - Each public utility may charge up to one and one-half percent per month on any customer charges not timely paid. Appropriate calculation of this late payment charge shall be made at the time of each successive, usual billing date, and the amount of any such charge included as a separately identified item upon the current bill. Before implementing a late payment charge program, the utility must show on its customer bill, in addition to other necessary information, the date on which the bill is delivered to the United States mail, or delivered to the customer's premises, together with showing the date by which payment must be received in the utility's offices to avoid late payment charges. In no case shall payment for current service be considered overdue if received by the utility within 20 days from the mailing date or delivered date of the bill.

The late payment charge shall not be applied to any amount billed as taxes which utilities are required to collect on behalf of local government.

Statutory Authority

§§ 56-245.1, 56-246, 56-247 and 56-247.1 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Case No. 19589, eff. January 10, 1977.

20VAC5-10-20. Utility customer deposit requirements.

Each utility may require deposits from customers to protect against uncollectible accounts. The maximum amount of any deposit shall not exceed the equivalent of the customer's estimated liability for two months usage. At the request of the commission, any public utility which bills in advance for any part of its services, yet requires a deposit as herein authorized, must justify the requirement as being reasonably necessary to protect against uncollectibles from its customers.

Each utility shall be liable for interest on deposits held longer than 90 days, to accrue from the date the deposit is made until it has been refunded, or until a reasonable effort has been made to effect refund. All investor-owned utilities will pay interest on deposits at a rate established annually. The interest rate for such deposits in a given year will be established in December of the preceding year to equal the average of the one year Constant Maturity Treasury rate for September, October, and November of the preceding year. Nonprofit utilities that are owned by their customers will pay 75% of the above described interest rate. The commission's Director of Utility Accounting and Finance shall notify utilities in December of each year of the rate prevailing for the ensuing year. At the option of each customer making a security deposit, each utility shall annually make either direct payment to the customer of all accrued interest, or shall credit same to the customer's account.

Customer deposits may be refunded by a utility at any time. Residential customers' deposits should not be held longer than one year and all other deposits should not be held longer than two years provided the customer has established satisfactory credit during that period.

Whenever a utility requires a deposit from any residential customer, the customer shall be permitted to pay it in three consecutive equal monthly installments whenever the total amount of the required deposit exceeds the sum of $40. However, each utility shall have the discretion to allow payment of any deposit (more or less than $40 total) over a longer period of time to avoid undue hardship.

Statutory Authority

§ 12.1-13 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Case No. PUE820073, eff. February 22, 1983; amended, Virginia Register Volume 20, Issue 10, eff. December 23, 2003; Errata, 20:13 VA.R. 1644 March 8, 2004; amended, Virginia Register Volume 29, Issue 23, eff. July 1, 2013.

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