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Utility Rights in Texas

Other House & Apartment Issues

Your electric utility rights in Texas.

Learn about your electric utility rights, including what to do if you have a problem with an electric provider, how to file a complaint, how to get help with your bill, and how to prevent your electricity from being shut off.

What are my rights as a utility customer?

The Public Utility Commission’s Know Your Rights page tells you when an electricity, sewer, or telecom provider can disconnect your service or refuse new service.

For example, you cannot be refused service due to nonpayment by a previous occupant. You must also receive ten days’ notice before a provider cuts your electricity or sewer for non-payment.

The Public Utility Commission rules only apply to private utility companies. Note that water and sewer utilities are often city or co-op owned, as are some electric utilities. The Public Utility Commission does not oversee these city or co-op owned utilities.

Who do I contact if I have a problem with an electric provider?

If you have a problem with your electric provider, you should contact the electric provider first and ask them to fix it. 

If you get an answer that you do not like from the customer service line, ask to speak to a supervisor.

If your problem is not fixed through the customer service network, you can file a complaint with the Public Utility Commission.

What are the different types of electric providers in Texas, and who oversees them?

Texas has three major types of electricity providers: cities, cooperatives, and private companies.

If a city provides your power, you can contact them with any concerns you have regarding service or billing. Municipally owned electric companies typically are not overseen by state regulators.

If you belong to an electric cooperative, you can contact the administrators of the co-op with your concerns. Because co-ops are member-owned, their customers typically need to resolve disputes through the co-op. If you have a billing dispute, you can also file a consumer complaint with the Office of the Attorney General of Texas.

If you have questions or concerns about a private electricity provider, you can contact the Public Utility Council. The Public Utility Council oversees electric companies and may be able to assist you. If you have a billing dispute, you can also file a consumer complaint with the Office of the Attorney General of Texas.

For more information about municipal electric companies and co-ops, as well as a breakdown of the taxes, fees, and charges on your electric bill, visit the websites of the Public Utility Council and the Office of the Public Utility Counsel (OPC). The OPC provides representation to residential and small commercial consumers.

How do I file a complaint with the Public Utility Commission?

You can file a complaint with the Public Utility Commission.

You can also mail, fax, or email your complaint:

PUC - Customer Protection
P.O. Box 13326
Austin, TX 78711-3326
Fax: 1-512-936-7003

To reach Public Utility Commission customer service:

Call: 1-888-782-8477
TTY: 1-800-735-2988

Visit the File an Informal Complaint page to read about what happens after you file a complaint, and what to do if you are not satisfied with the resolution.

Are there any programs that can help me with my utility bill?

For a list of programs that provide assistance with utilities, visit Help with Utilities.

When is my electricity protected from disconnection?

Under certain circumstances, a regulated electric utility is prohibited from disconnecting a customer. Those circumstances include:

  • When there is a heat advisory in effect,
  • When the temperature did not go above 28 degrees the previous day and is not expected to go above 28 degrees for the next 24 hours,
  • On weekends or holidays or the day immediately preceding, when there is no one available to accept payment,
  • When the customer establishes that disconnection of service will cause some person residing at the residence to become seriously ill or more seriously ill,
  • When the company receives a pledge, letter of intent, purchase order, or other notification that the energy assistance provider is forwarding sufficient payment to continue service.

To learn more, read about your rights as a utility customer on the Public Utility Council’s Know Your Rights page.

How can I prevent my electricity from being disconnected?

The best way to prevent your electricity from being disconnected is to stay in contact with your electric provider when you have trouble making payments.

You can ask for a deferred payment plan and a levelized or average payment plan where you would pay the same amount every month.

You can also enroll in available payment assistance programs, the weatherization program, or other energy efficiency programs.

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