Frequently Asked Questions
The following page contains answers to questions commonly asked by New Mexico utility customers. This information applies to utilities regulated by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC). These utilities include electric, natural gas, for-profit water and sewage companies and certain telecommunication companies.
1. What kind of problems can the Consumer Relations Division assist me with?
The Consumer Relations Division can investigate your inquiry or dispute if it concerns:
a. Utility rates/charges;
b. A proposed or recent disconnection of service;
c. Responsibility for a bill;
d. A request for a deposit;
e. Refusal of service by a utility;
f. The quality and type of utility service;
g. A utility’s policies and procedures;
h. Utility installations
i. Propane deliveries
The Consumer Relations Division does not have to jurisditional authority to help with the following matters concerning:
a. Merchandise sold to you by a public utility, repair or maintenance contracts for your heating and/or cooling equipment;
b. Complaints against landlords/property owners concerning high bills, disconnection of service, etc.;
c. Complaints concerning oil companies;
d. Complaints regarding Municipally-owned utilities;
e. Complaints regarding Mutual Domestic Water Associations;
f. Collection of damage claims against utilities
g. Propane tank rental fees
h. Propane safety issues
i. Cost of propane
2. If I am requesting utility service, will I have to pay a deposit?
If you cannot establish credit; you have left owing an unpaid balance to a utility company; you are chronically delinquent or you have interfered with or diverted the service of the utility, you will be required to pay a deposit.
3. If I have to pay a deposit, how much will I have to pay?
Deposits for a residential customer shall not be more than one-sixth of that residential customer’s estimated annual billings or not more than one and one-half (1-1/2) times that residential customer’s estimated maximum monthly bill. Deposits for telephone service cannot exceed three (3) times the average monthly bill for intrastate services provided by the carrier for the same class of customers.
4. When do I get my deposit back?
A company shall promptly credit or refund the amount of deposit together with accrued interest due to any residential customer who has not been chronically delinquent for the twelve-month period from the date of deposit. Deposits may be used to pay any balance on your account. Customer Deposit Interest Rate for 2013 is 0.76%.
5. How often will I receive my bill and when is it due?
A utility shall render a bill to every residential customer for each billing period in accordance with applicable tariffs. This billing period is usually thirty (30) days. A residential customer is given at least twenty (20) calendar days from the date of issuance of a bill for payment in full before the bill is considered delinquent.
6. Are there equal payment plans available?
Electric and gas utilities offer a budget payment plan to its residential customers. The budget payment plan shall provide the residential customer with a method of levelizing the bill for utility service. It shall be designed to avoid the accumulation of an unpaid balance, which will be burdensome to pay in a single payment. The budget payment plan is available to any residential customer who is current in payments for utility service. The plan is based on a 12-month period, with 12 equal payments per month. This plan can assist those customers who are on fixed incomes.
7. What is the monthly service charge that appears on my electric and gas bills?
The monthly service/access charge is the base charge for providing service to your residence. It covers costs such as processing accounts, meter reading and billing. The charge will appear on the monthly bill even if you use no service during the billing period.
8. Am I responsible for a bill incurred by someone I lived with?
If the utility service is in your name, you are responsible for paying the bills no matter who used the service. If you share a house or an apartment with someone else, and the service is in the other person’s name, you are not held responsible for paying the bill if that person moves out. If you decide to change the account into your name and the person owing the previous bill still lives with you, you can be held responsible for that outstanding bill.
9. If I have been billed incorrectly, what should I do?
The first thing you should do is contact the utility company. The companies are obligated to investigate the complaint and report the results to you. If the dispute cannot be resolved, they shall advise you that you may file a complaint with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.
10. If I cannot pay my entire telephone bill, what can I do to keep my local dial tone?
As long as you pay your monthly bill for local service, a telephone company cannot disconnect your local dial tone.
11. Can I restrict the use of my phone from long-distance, collect calls or 900 numbers?
As a customer of the telephone company, you can place a toll block for long distance on request; however, your local company may charge a fee for this service. If you do not pay your long-distance charges, the company can place an involuntary toll block on the account. There are also 900 and collect call blocks that can be placed on your phone. These blocks restrict anyone from calling you collect or dialing 900 pay-per-call numbers from your phone. Telephone companies do not charge for these services.
12. I was living with a relative in their home. My relative then died. Am I responsible for the balance on their utility bill?
Only a SPOUSE is responsible for the debt accrued by a spouse for services rendered on an account in their spouse’s name. A non-spouse is not responsible.
13. My utility company wrote off a balance of mine as bad debt. Can they come back at me later and try to recover that debt?
YES, the utility or the customer, could bring a private cause of action for amounts underpaid or overcharged (collected or billed) for the previous FOUR years.
14. My electric bill is high. What can I do?
a. Please contact Consumer Relations and provide the phone number and address for your home. We’ll then have your electric company provide us a statement of usage and billing for the past few years to compare your usage. If your usage appears higher than this month of last year, we’ll have them do a re-read of the meter. In addition, we recommend the following steps to lower your electrical usage of your home now:
b. Contact your electric company to run the energy audit of your home.
c. Perform a “breaker test”, where you flip off all the switches on your breaker box in your home. Check the electrical meter to see if it’s turning while the breaker box is turned off. If the meter moves, then you may have meter creep, and please contact your electric compnay immediately. Then slowly turn the switches back on, one by one, while monitoring the meter. Check to see if the meter starts to turn rapidly while each of these switches if flipped back on. This will show you which zone is using the most electricity.
d. If the usage is correct, please contact your electric company to setup a payment arrangement, so the outstanding part of the bill can be paid over several months.