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Politics & Government

PUC Says Utility Companies Can’t Charge For Paper Bills

Pat Pilon

  Public utility companies cannot charge customers a fee to receive a paper utility bill in the mail, the Public Utility Commission decided Thursday.

The five-member commission unanimously approved a motion concluding the expense of providing a paper bill to customers is included in operating expenses of the utility and charging a fee is not consistent with commission regulations, long-standing precedent or established practices of Pennsylvania Public Utilities.

Commissioners agreed that charging customers disproportionately impacts low-income and elderly consumers, as companies have an obligation to provide bills in a nondiscriminatory way.

“Part of the concern was that we didn’t want low-income consumers and elderly consumers to be discriminated against who either didn’t have access to the internet or just simply preferred to receive paper bills in the mail,” said Robin Tilley, deputy press secretary for the Public Utility Commission.

In March of last year, the commission ended several years of investigating telecommunications companies charging for paper copies. The commission concluded that charging to receive a bill in the mail was unfair and against commission regulation.

Nine months later, they amended that decision to include any utility. 

“A couple utilities were claiming that commission regulations weren’t clear in that manner,” Tilley said. “The commissioners disagreed with that, but that’s where this proposed rulemaking came about in December of last year to really add a separate section within our regulations that really codifies that.”