Service and Deposit Policy

APPLICATION FOR SERVICE

- The provision of utility service shall be contingent upon customer’s compliance with these policy provisions and as amended from time to time.

- All applications for utility service must be filed at the office of Austin Utilities located at 1908 14th ST NE, Austin, MN  55912.  Customers applying for service must complete and sign an application for service and provide valid identification. 

- A new application for utility service will be required to re-establish a disconnected service and/or when the original service applicant has changed.

- All current and/or delinquent accounts with Austin Utilities must be paid in full before a new application for service will be accepted.

- If an occupant has been disconnected for non-payment of utilities and another occupant applies for service at the same residence, a valid rental agreement or proof of ownership for the new tenant and valid identification must be provided before the service is restored along with a completed Application for Service.

DEPOSIT AMOUNTS

Commercial/Industrial Customers: Amount will be the highest monthly bill in the last 12 months or $500, whichever is greater.

Residential Customer: Deposits will be $150 for electric service and $150 for natural gas service.

CUSTOMER SUBJECT TO A DEPOSIT

- New customer (residential and commercial) – Any customer who cannot provide Austin Utilities with a satisfactory credit history from another utility company will be required to make a deposit.

- Any customer who has an unpaid prior account with Austin Utilities.

- Any customer (past or present) who has not established a good credit history with Austin Utilities.

- Any customer who has previously been disconnected for any permissible reason.

- Any customer who has an existing deposit that is not adequate and/or has not established a good credit history.

METER READING

Meter readings will be obtained each month when meters are located outside or are accessible.  In the event a meter is not accessible, a meter card will be left at the residence and it is the customer’s responsibility to return the card, postage paid, to Austin Utilities.  Otherwise, the monthly meter read will be estimated based on past usage history.  The bill will be reconciled once an actual reading is obtained.   A customer’s meters shall not be estimated more than 3 consecutive months. The meters are the property of Austin Utilities and Austin Utilities personnel must have access to the property.  A customer’s refusal to allow access to the meters or a customer not cooperating to obtain reads subjects the customer to immediate disconnection.

BILLING DATES

All payments are due on or before the due date shown on the utility bill.  Payments made on or before the due date do not incur additional charges.  The amount owed after the due date consists of an additional five percent (5%) of the total bill.  In order for a payment to be considered on time, it must be received in the utility business office on or before the due date.  Postmarks will not be considered as proof of timely payment.  Late payments may adversely affect the customer’s credit rating.  Upon discontinuing utility service, the customer’s final bill is due and payable in full.

PENALTIES AND DELINQUENT NOTICES

Failure to receive a bill does not exempt the customer from the provisions of these terms and conditions.

In the event a customer has not fully paid the current month’s utility bill on or before the due date shown on the bill, a penalty will be imposed the following day.  One to two days following the penalty date a delinquent notice will be sent to the customer. The customer’s credit history will then be adjusted to reflect that a delinquent notice has been mailed.

UNSATISFACTORY PAYMENT HISTORY DEFINED

An unsatisfactory payment history from another utility company.

Any Austin Utility bill left unpaid and/or charged off as uncollectible.

An NSF check returned or bank notice for automatic payment sent to Austin Utilities.

More than one delinquent notice sent due to an unpaid balance in the prior 12 months.

Utility service disconnected for non-pay.

COLLECTION NOTICES

In the event a customer has not fully paid the current month’s utility bill after being sent a delinquent notice, a collection notice will be sent approximately 7 days after the delinquent notice was mailed informing them of a possible disconnection of services.  Notices shall be sent by First Class United States Postage and mailed to the address on record. The account will not be disconnected until at least 20 days after the collection notice has been mailed.

In the event that a satisfactory payment arrangement is not made, or payment in full is not received, the customer will be subject to disconnection without further notice on the date stated on the collection notice.  The amount owed must exceed the amount of the deposit on file before disconnecting.

To avoid disconnection of services, payment must be received by a Customer Service Representative in the Austin Utilities office by 5:00 pm on the collection date indicated on the notice.

If the disconnection occurs, service will be restored upon payment in full of any charges currently due on the billing statement, plus any disconnect and reconnect fees.  Customer will also be subject to any deposit requirements.

DISCONNECTION OF SERVICE

Representatives of Austin Utilities may refuse to connect or may disconnect service for good cause including violation of any of its service policies, failure to pay a deposit when required, failure to pay utility charges when due, violation of rate schedules, failure to allow access to meters, theft or illegal diversion of electricity, gas, water, or upon the receipt of written instruction from the proper authorities of the violation of Municipal, State or National Electric codes.  Before disconnection, an attempt will be made to give the customer reasonable advance notice of such disconnection including the reason for the disconnection.  The nature of the notice required and the period of time before disconnection shall be reasonable under the particular circumstances with special consideration for the potential dangers to life and property.  The disconnection of service for any cause shall not release the customer from any previous obligation to pay for utilities or services received or amounts specified in the Utilities’ Service Policies or any written contract with the customer.

RECONNECTION OF SERVICE

Payment in full of any unpaid balances (including disconnect and reconnect fees, and required deposit) shall be made before service will be restored.  A new application for service and valid identification may be requested prior to reconnection of service.

If an occupant has been disconnected for non-payment (or any other valid reason) and  a new occupant applies for service at the same residence, a valid rental agreement or proof of ownership and valid photo identification must be provided. Before the service is restored the new occupant must complete an Application for Service, including the deposit if required.   If the original applicant is still residing in the premises, service will not be granted unless their outstanding bill is paid in full.

If an electric service has been disconnected for more than 90 days, a licensed electrician will be required to inspect and approve the electric service along with filing an affidavit with the State of Minnesota.

DISCONNECT/RECONNECTION FEES

The following prescribed fees shall be assessed where applicable:

Electric disconnect fee $40

Electric reconnect fee $60

Gas reconnect fee $60

Overtime fee $250 after hours or on Saturday

Overtime fee $500 Sundays or Holidays

Fees must be paid at the Customer Service counter before 3:00 pm the day of the reconnect to avoid overtime fees.

MINNESOTA COLD WEATHER RULE

Minnesota State Statutes, 216B.097 refers to cold weather protection to residential customers of Cooperative or Municipal Utility customers during the period between October 15 and April 15 if the disconnection affects the primary heat source for the residential unit and all of the following conditions are met, Subdivision 1:

  1. The household income of the customer is at or below 50 percent of the state median household income. A municipal utility may verify income on forms it provides or obtain verification of income from the local energy assistance provider. A customer is deemed to meet the income requirements of this clause if the customer receives any form of public assistance, including energy assistance that uses an income eligibility threshold set at or below 50 percent of the state median household income.
  2. A customer enters into and makes reasonable timely payments under a payment agreement that considers the financial resources of the household.
  3. A customer receives referrals to energy assistance, weatherization, conservation, or other programs likely to reduce the customer’s energy bills.
  4. A municipal utility must, between August 15 and October 15 of each year, notify all residential customers of the provisions of this section.