NRRI 16-02 IURC Billing Report (with Appendix A).pdf

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In May 2015, Commissioner Jim Huston of the Indiana Regulatory Utility Commission
(IURC or Commission) contacted the National Association of Regulatory Utility
Commissioners (NARUC) and the National Regulatory Research Institute (NRRI) with an
interest in exploring public utility billing practices around the nation after learning that the
number one area that results in complaints received by the IURC's Consumer Affairs
Division is about concerns with utility billing and billing-related communications.
In Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15), the IURC’s Consumer Affairs Division logged 4,854 complaints
regarding issues with regulated utilities; this was a 14 percent increase from the previous
fiscal year (4,254 complaints).1 Of the complaints in FY15, 23 percent were billing disputes.
The top five billing issues as categorized by IURC staff were (in order of volume): high bills,
sub-metering, deposits, unpaid bill, and service charges. Of the total complaints the IURC
received regarding regulated utilities in FY15, 38 percent were related to electric utilities, 30
percent were related to natural gas utilities, 27 percent related to water utilities, four percent
to wastewater utilities, and one percent telecommunications.2 The increase in volume from
FY14 to FY15 presented an opportunity to foster discourse and transparency between
stakeholder groups on the topic of billing practices and related consumer communications
regarding billing.
After several discussions, the IURC, NARUC, or NRRI did not find another state that had
performed a similar forum that brought together utilities and consumer groups to discuss
billing to the degree Commissioner Huston was seeking with the intent of better
understanding utility billing. At that point, Commissioner Huston and staff began planning a
two-pronged approach consisting of hosting a Billing Symposium in Indiana for open
discussion among stakeholders in addition to NRRI conducting primary and secondary
research on billing practices around the United States. With the support of fellow
commissioners and Chetrice Mosley, IURC’s Executive Director of External Affairs, and
staff, Commissioner Huston was instrumental in initiating and guiding the Billing
Symposium project.