Idaho Power Wants to Discontinue In-Person Visits Prior to Disconnections

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An Idaho regulation requires the state's three major electric utilities to make face-to-face contact with customers to either collect payment or terminate electric service. But the utilities want to change that.

Idaho Power, Avista Utilities and Rocky Mountain Power are appealing to the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to waive the regulation. As a result, the PUC will conduct a public workshop on the matter on Friday, Nov. 21, at its Washington Street offices in Boise. 

The utilities claim that their customers already receive multiple notices before disconnection. For example, customers receive past-due notices mailed seven days before service is suspended and again three days before disconnection. Additionally, 24 hours before disconnection, customers receive a telephone notice. Currently, Idaho Power is required to knock and leave a door hanger if making a manual disconnect. 

Meanwhile, Idaho Power is currently installing 14,500 meters with automated connect/disconnect ability at remote service points or at residences that have had multiple disconnect site visits in an 18-month period. The utility insists that its new automated ability will reduce its operating expenses by about $700,000. 

If the PUC approves the request, the three utilities say they'll conduct a campaign to inform customers of the change.