Following the declaration of a peacetime emergency in March 2020, the PUC called on all Minnesota utilities to institute the following consumer protections:
- Restrict disconnection of residential customers for nonpayment of utility bills and reconnect customers who were disconnected;
- Waive late fees that any residential or small business customer incurred because of the pandemic;
- Arrange payment plans.
As the pandemic progressed, the PUC worked with Minnesota’s eight rate-regulated, gas and electric utilities to establish monthly compliance reporting, including the dollar amount of unpaid, residential customer bills and the number of customers signing up for energy assistance and payment plans. The rate-regulated utilities continued to suspend disconnections for non-payment and the collection of service fees, including suspension of negative credit reporting.
After nearly a year of these customer protections and reporting, the PUC oversaw the resumption of normal service, requiring transition plans and enhanced communications . Per those transition plans, many rate-regulated utilities resumed disconnections for customers with outstanding debts in August 2021. This date was targeted to allow customers time to take advantage of energy assistance and bill payment programs. These transition plans and all reporting can be found in docket No. 20-375 found in our eDockets system.
Further Commission action prompted an end to negative credit reporting for consumers who have past-due utility bills. Overdue payments reported to credit reporting companies can result in consumers having lower credit scores and reducing the consumer’s ability to obtain credit or loans.
The Public Utilities Commission will continue to offer virtual participation options for all public meetings including:
- Agenda meetings, where Commissioners make decisions,
- Planning meetings, where Commissioners learn about important issues in the State,
- Public meetings and hearings to share information and gather the public’s comments about individual utility projects, like a new solar farm.
Access a meeting webcast, view agendas, and learn about accessing a meeting in-person. There are options to watch meetings on your computer and listen to some types of meetings by calling on your telephone.
The public can attend all Commission meetings in-person.
Agenda meetings and Planning meetings are being held in the Commission office. Public meetings and hearings are often held near the project being discussed; learn more by reading notices filed in eDockets for the projects that impact you. PUC meetings will follow relevant public safety protocols, like masks and social distancing, as current COVID situations require.