It is essential to be aware of your consumer rights if you are considering switching your energy provider. Any ESCO that provides services for homes must comply with the Home Energy Fair Practices Act (HEFPA). This sets out your rights as a consumer and provides rules for energy companies to follow. The act contains a lot of information, and not everyone wants to read through it all. However, we will give you some of the most important highlights. You need to know about the rights you have so that you can ensure NY electric suppliers are behaving legally.
Receiving Your Service
When you want to change your energy provider, the first thing you need to do is make an application. If your application is approved, your service should begin within five business days. If this doesn't happen, it may be for a number of reasons. One possibility is that you have outstanding bills on a previous account. Other circumstances include safety concerns and labor strikes. If your application is denied, the utility needs to provide you with a reason. They should tell you what steps to take to receive the service. They also need to give you information about your rights to a PSC review.
When it comes to paying your bill, many providers want you to do it by mail. However, you are also allowed to go to their payment offices or pay at a bank or store. You might choose to have balanced bills. If you do, the provider must make sure they check your meter every four months. After six months, they should send you a notice offering a special appointment. If your meter shows that your energy use was higher than the estimated bills, you can pay the difference in monthly installments.
There can sometimes be other payments involved with your electricity provider. They might require a deposit or ask you to pay a late fee. If you are required to pay a deposit, the company must tell you at least 20 days in advance. If you receive public assistance or SSI, you cannot be required to pay a deposit. The same is true if you are 62 years old or over, unless you haven't paid a bill within the last six months and your service has been shut off. A late payment charge can be added to your bill if it has been 20 days since the bill is due. It can be up to 1.5% per month on the unpaid balance.
It's important to be aware of special protections that you may be allowed. People who are elderly, blind, disabled, or who experience a medical emergency are protected. Also, everyone has special protections during November 1 to April 15. If you have a medical emergency, your doctor or local Board of Health can notify your supplier. They must keep your service on for 30 days if you are unable to pay your bills. It can also be kept on for another 30 days if a doctor explains why it is necessary for your health. The utility can be kept on indefinitely if it is required for a life support system.
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