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Connecticut Public Acts 1996

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Substitute House Bill No. 5426

PUBLIC ACT NO. 96-136

AN ACT CONCERNING INACCURATE BILLING BY PUBLIC UTILITIES.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 16-259a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) No electric, gas, or water company, as defined in section 16-1, which inaccurately bills a retail customer for service may bill or otherwise hold the customer financially liable for more than [six months or three billing periods, whichever is longer,] ONE YEAR after the customer receives such service, unless the customer, either alone or with a person other than an employee of the company, by an affirmative act, is responsible for the inaccurate billing or fails to provide for reasonable access to the premises where the company's meter is located by an employee of the company during business hours for the purpose of reading the meter.

(b) Any such electric, gas, or water company which inaccurately bills a retail customer for service may bill or otherwise hold the customer financially liable for not more than [six months or three billing periods, whichever is longer,] ONE YEAR after the customer receives such service, unless a delayed bill for the service (1) would deprive the customer of the opportunity to apply for or receive energy assistance or (2) is the result of the customer's meter erroneously registering another customer's consumption, in which case the company may not bill or otherwise hold the customer liable for [such service] THE SERVICE PROVIDED TO ANOTHER CUSTOMER.

(c) No telephone company or person, firm or corporation certified to provide intrastate telecommunications services pursuant to sections 16-247f to 16-247h, inclusive, which inaccurately bills a retail customer for service may bill or otherwise hold the customer financially liable for more than two years or the time provided in federal law, whichever is longer, after the customer receives such service, unless the customer, either alone or with a person other than an employee of the company, person, firm or corporation, by an affirmative act, is responsible for the inaccurate billing.

(d) ANY COMPANY, PERSON, FIRM OR CORPORATION THAT HOLDS A CUSTOMER FINANCIALLY LIABLE UNDER SUBSECTION (a), (b), OR (c) OF THIS SECTION SHALL ESTABLISH A PAYMENT PLAN WHICH PRORATES ALL ARREARAGES FOR SERVICE THE CUSTOMER OWES OVER A PERIOD OF TIME THAT IS NO SHORTER THAN THE PERIOD FOR WHICH THE CUSTOMER IS BEING HELD FINANCIALLY LIABLE BY SUCH COMPANY, PERSON, FIRM OR CORPORATION. THE PAYMENT PLAN SHALL PROVIDE THAT NO PAYMENT CHARGED TO A CUSTOMER UNDER SUCH PLAN SHALL EXCEED FIFTY PER CENT OF THE AVERAGE AMOUNT THAT THE COMPANY CHARGED SUCH CUSTOMER FOR EACH BILLING PERIOD OVER THE PREVIOUS TWELVE-MONTH PERIOD FOR SERVICES RECEIVED DURING THAT PERIOD. NOTWITHSTANDING THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SUBSECTION, A COMPANY, PERSON, FIRM OR CORPORATION MAY REQUIRE IMMEDIATE PAYMENT OF THE FULL AMOUNT DUE UNDER SUBSECTION (a), (b) OR (c) OF THIS SECTION IF SUCH CUSTOMER FAILS TO MAKE TIMELY PAYMENTS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PAYMENT PLAN ESTABLISHED BY SUCH COMPANY, PERSON, FIRM OR CORPORATION.

Approved May 29, 1996. Effective October 1, 1996.

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