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Consumer Information Center

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Need help understanding your utility bill or resolving a dispute with your electric, natural gas, water or telecommunication service provider? The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) can help. Submit your questions or complaint by email, or call Consumer Services at 503-378-6600 or 800-522-2404. Read below for additional information.  
 
NOTE: During the COVID-19 outbreak, it may be best to contact our Consumer Services Team by email at: puc.consumer@state.or.us.
 

​Utility customers throughout Oregon have reached out to the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) to get answers to various questions. We have compiled a list of those questions and responses for your convenience. Please view the Oregon Wildfires 2020 Q&A​ for helpful information.

If the Q&A does not answer your question, feel free to contact our Consumer Services Team by email​ or calling 503-378-6600 (TTY or dial 711).

For those impacted by the fires needed assistance from FEMA, view these videos for more information: YouTube (English), YouTube (Spanish).

​For Oregonians having challenges with cell phone service due to the wildfires, view these instructions to set up WiFi calling on your cell phone​.​



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Electric and Natural Gas

Information During the Pandemic:
The major investor-owned electric, natural gas, telephone and water utilities (IOUs) have self-imposed a moratorium on disconnections during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of these companies have also agreed to waive any late payment charges. Although IOUs are delaying disconnections, you will be responsible for any outstanding balances when disconnections resume. We encourage you to take steps now, to keep their utilities on, when the moratorium is lifted. Our hope is that you will take a proactive approach with your utility company to prevent the disconnection of utilities due to a large unpaid bill. Some things you can do now:
  • ​​Make payments when you can – even small amounts will reduce your overall balance
  • Call energy assistance to see if you qualify (see links below in the General Information)
  • Call your energy company to make long-term payment plans (select numbers listed below)
  • Check out energy saving tips ​
  • Review your telephone bills for unnecessary features
  • Call to see if you qualify for telephone assistance 

Contact the Commission’s Consumer Services to register a complaint if you have not been able to reach satisfactory payment arrangements with your utility. Call 503-378-6600 or 800-522-2404, or email us.​

The PUC regulates investor-owned utilities throughout Oregon. If you are a customer of a cooperative, municipality, or district, the Oregon PUC does not have jurisdiction over these utility service providers. If you have been unable to come to a satisfactory payment arrangement with your unregulated provider, you can speak with their board or city council members regarding your grievance. Those are the individuals responsible for making decisions about payment arrangements, late fees, and disconnection procedures for these entities.


General Information
Always contact your utility service provider first to ask about their bill payment assistance options. Below are the PUC-regulated electric and natural gas utilities for your convenience. 
  • Avista Utilities – 800-227-9187
  • Cascade Natural Gas – 888-522-1130
  • Idaho Power – 800-488-6151
  • NW Natural Gas – 800-422-4012
  • Pacific Power – 888-221-7070
  • PGE – 800-542-8818



 
 
Emergency Medical Certificate Program
If you qualify, this program may allow you or someone in your household who is under a doctor’s care the option of a more lenient utility bill payment plan. A qualified medical professional must submit the request on your behalf, indicating how the loss of electric or gas utilities would negatively impact the patient. Learn more about the Emergency Medical Certificate Program
 
Telephone
Oregon Lifeline reduces the monthly cost of phone or broadband service for qualifying low-income households.




​If you have a complaint about your utility service, please first try to resolve the issue with your service provider. Below is contact information for select utilities for your convenience. 

Natural gas customers, if your service needs to be restored , it's important to note that your service provider will NEED to enter your home to ensure this is done safely.
  • Avista Utilities – 800-227-9187
  • Cascade Natural Gas – 888-522-1130
  • CenturyLink – 800-244-1111
  • Frontier – 866-499-4271
  • Idaho Power – 800-488-6151
  • NW Natural Gas – 800-422-4012
  • Pacific Power – 888-221-7070
  • PGE – 800-542-8818
If unable to resolve the issue, please contact the PUC:
 
By Phone:
503-378-6600
800-522-2404
TTY users dial 711
 
By email:
 
File online


 
Telephone Service for Victims of Domestic Violence
The PUC established rules for CenturyLink and Frontier for those who have active restraining orders on file for domestic violence in order to keep local telephone service from being disconnected. If your local service is in jeopardy of disconnection due to nonpayment, you can contact your telephone company to see if this program is applicable to you. If you meet the qualifications, you will be allowed to set up payment arrangements on your local service only. Note: Service can still be disconnected if you do not keep the payment arrangement current, and this program does not apply to internet, long distance, or television services.
 
Utility Disconnection Information
Regulated utilities are allowed to disconnect service for nonpayment. They are required to provide notices to customers prior to disconnection. Service may NOT be disconnected for non-payment on the day before or on a weekend, or national holiday. Disconnection notice requirements are as follows: 
  • Electric and natural gas services – Require 15- and 5-day notices
  • Telephone service – Requires 5-business day notice
  • Water service – Requires 15- and 7-day notice
Regulated utilities (excluding phone) are required to offer time-payment arrangements, typically 12 months, for the past-due amount.
General Information
Smart meters allow electric utilities to accurately record customer usage, provide usage information, and provide a more reliable utility grid, which ultimately reduces costs for customers. The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) reviews smart meter installations and costs as part of smart grid reports and general rate case proceedings.
 
Contact your electric utility service provider for more information. 
  • Idaho Power – 800-488-6151
  • Pacific Power – 888-221-7070
  • PGE – 800-542-8818

Pacific Power Smart Meter Transition

Pacific Power is in the process of upgrading meters throughout its Oregon service territory through 2019. Installation of digital, broadcasting meters was approved by the PUC in late 2016, after Pacific Power demonstrated the upgrade would improve reliability and reduce costs for customers. The PUC has encouraged public and stakeholder involvement throughout the multi-year meter upgrade process.
 

Opt-out Option & Fee

The PUC has approved an opt-out option for customers who want to keep their manually read meters. To keep the cost of standard utility service fair and affordable for all customers, those that want choices beyond the standard service are typically asked to pay the costs they incur.
 
In response to customer concerns about the $36 opt-out fee, the PUC asked Pacific Power to consider opt-out options that required fewer manual reads. In March 2019, the Commission approved a decrease in the number of meter reads to three annually for smart meter opt-out customers who register for Pacific Power’s Equal Payment Plan to $9 per month.
 
In December 2019, the Commission reviewed Pacific Power’s filing to reduce the monthly meter reading fee for opt-out customers. The Commission approved the following:
 
  • Approved Pacific Power’s request to reduce the meter reading fee from $36 to $10 each month for smart meter opt-out customers on a monthly meter reading program.
  • Declined Pacific Power’s request to eliminate the triannual meter reading option for opt-out customers and direct Pacific Power to reduce the cost of that option from $9 to $3 per month.
  • Directed Pacific Power to submit a more developed proposal to the PUC to consider transitioning opt-out customers away from the triannual meter reading option.
    Pacific Power smart meter opt-out customers must register for Pacific Power's Equal Payment Plan to take advantage of the reduced rate. Call 888-221-7070 for details or for additional information.

The PUC’s public process & decision-making timeline

  • PUC Fact Sheet – smart meter decision-making timeline
  • UM 1667 Staff Report for December 6, 2016 Public Meeting – this report details cost estimates and the long-running Smart Grid process.
  • UE 322 Staff Report for March 7, 2017 Public Meeting – features PUC Staff recommendations and conditions for the project.
  • At the Nov. 6, 2018 Public Meeting - Pacific Power responded to questions the Commission had received from the public. Watch this meeting or view Pacific Power’s responses to frequently asked questions.

Questions or comments?
To share a public comment, ask further questions or address billing or other issues, contact the PUC’s Consumer Services Team by email or call 800-522-2404 or 503-378-6600.

 
Energy Trust of Oregon is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Oregon utility customers save energy and generate renewable power. You can evaluate your home for current energy use, learn about home upgrades or cash incentives, or learn about low-cost/no-cost tips to save energy and money. If you meet low-income eligibility requirements, you may qualify for free or reduced-cost weatherization.

Typically higher than normal energy bills are caused by one of the following:
  • Colder/hotter than normal weather: This typically requires additional heating and air conditioner usage.
  • Water heating: Colder weather affects the temperature of the water coming into your water heater, leading to higher energy usage to heat the water.
  • Home all day: Staying indoors during extreme temperatures leads to increased energy usage.
  • Extra days in billing period: At times due to severe weather, meter readers can be delayed. This can result in bills covering a longer period of time.
  • Estimated bills: In some areas, meters are unable to be read due to weather, so the utility is allowed to estimate those bills. The utility is required to clearly note this on your bill. Higher estimates than actual usage will be corrected once the meter is read.
  • Prior Arrears: If you did not pay your bill in full the prior month, there could be a carry-over amount on your current bill.

Learn more about energy saving tips from Energy Trust of Oregon.

As a utility service customer, you have certain rights and responsibilities. The utilities’ main obligation is to provide you with reliable services at rates approved by the PUC. Your main obligation is to pay for the services you use, to not damage the company’s facilities, and to notify the utility service provider if you move or wish to change your service. To receive notices in languages other than English, contact your service provider. To learn more about your rights and responsibilities, view the Oregon Administrative Rule 860-021-0010 (6).
For Electric and Natural Gas – Comment on a Proposed Rate Increase
File a comment on a proposed rate increase for Electric or Natural gas utilities.
 
For Water – Petition for Rate Reviews
If you received notice of a proposed rate increase from your water or utility, you may submit a petition requesting the PUC review the proposed increase. If the Commission receives petitions from 20 percent of a utility’s customers, a rate case may be initiated.
 
For Telephone – Petition for Rate Reviews
If you received notice of a proposed rate increase from your telephone utility (excluding CenturyLink and Frontier), you may submit a petition requesting the PUC review the proposed increase. If the Commission receives petitions from 10 percent of a utility’s customers, a rate case may be initiated.
 
 
If you have a utility emergency or urgent safety concern, call 911 and your utility service provider right away. If you have an outage, contact your utility directly. 
  • Avista Utilities – 800-227-9187
  • Cascade Natural Gas – 888-522-1130
  • Idaho Power - 208-388-2323 or 800-488-6151
  • NW Natural - 800-822-3377
  • Pacific Power - 877-508-5088
  • PGE – 503-464-7777 or 800-544-1795​
Natural gas customers -- if your service needs to be restored, please note that your service provider will need to enter your home to ensure service is safely restored.​
Before you dig, know what’s below! Before planting a tree, building a fence, or using an excavator, call 811 to have all underground utilities marked.
 
If you have a complaint about 811 service, please contact us at 503-378-6600, 800-522-2404, or puc.consumer@state.or.us. Please provide as much detail about the situation as possible, including photos, maps, and any other documentation to demonstrate what happened.

​In 2014, the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) opened an investigation into Internet service provider CenturyLink in response to more than 1,000 customer complaints about their billing practices and undisclosed fees. CenturyLink recently settled with DOJ on this issue.

Starting 90 days from the date of this settlement, CenturyLink will no longer charge Oregon customers the ‘Internet Cost Recovery Fee’ or ‘Broadband Cost Recovery Fee’. However, if you are on “term commitment” or Price Lock plan for internet these fees will not automatically be removed from bills. Within 90 days of the settlement, existing customers on a “term commitment” or price Lock plan will receive notice from CenturyLink explaining what the ‘Internet Cost Recovery Fee’ or ‘Broadband Cost Recovery Fee’ is, and your options for removing those fees if you so choose.  You will be given the option of cancelling your existing CenturyLink service or transition to a different plan that does not include the fee. Once you receive the notice, you will have 30 days to cancel or change your service without being assessed an early termination fee.
 
For more information, contact our Consumer Services team at 503-378-6600 or 800-522-2404.

As a CenturyLink customer, you may have received a postcard stating that CenturyLink is requesting approval from the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) to no longer prorate closing bills, effective July 18, 2020. This would mean that when a customer wants to close an account due to a move or other reason, CenturyLink will no longer stop billing in the middle of a customer's billing cycle and prorate the cost. Billing would end on the last day of the customer's billing cycle.

It's important to note that the PUC rules require notification of information such as this to customers AND the PUC at least 30 days in advance of a requested change. Because the PUC had not received an official filing from CenturyLink to discontinue prorating closing bills in time for the July 18 effective date, you can disregard that first postcard. The PUC does, however, expect to receive a filing in mid-July from CenturyLink requesting an August 18, 2020 effective date for CenturyLink to no longer prorate closing bills. Customers can follow the filing in eDockets once it has been received by the PUC.

Once filed and docketed, PUC staff will carefully review the filing for compliance with the price plan, existing tariffs, and Commission rules and statutes. Once that review is complete, it will go before the Commission in a public meeting for action -- to approve or deny the filing. 

For the docket number, do a search in the eDocket system at https://apps.puc.state.or.us/edocketsSearch/eDocketsSearch​ or call 800-522-2404. To submit a comment on this filing, which will be taken into account by staff during the review process, email puc.publiccomments@state.or.us. ​

 

smiling customer service representative 
 

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Submit Questions or Complaints
By Phone:
  • (503) 378-6600
  • (800) 522-2404
  • (TTY or dial 711)
* NOTE: During the COVID-19 situation, email may be the best way to reach our Consumer Services Team.

By Mail:
Oregon Public Utility Commission
Attn: Consumer Services
PO Box 1088
Salem, OR 97308-1088

In Person:
201 High Street SE, Suite 100, Salem, Oregon
 

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