January 2015  

Introducing Commissioner Rendahl

The new year has brought the a new commissioner. After more than 30 years in public service, and six years at the commission, former chairman and commissioner, Jeffrey Goltz, retired on Dec. 31, 2014. His replacement, Ann Rendahl, was appointed by Gov. Inslee in December. She previously was the director of the Policy and Legislative Affairs Division for the commission.


Prior to leading policy and legislation, Ann served as director of the Administrative Law Division, as an administrative law judge, and as an assistant attorney general representing the Utilities and Transportation Division.


Commissioner Rendahl is a graduate of Wellesley College and received a master's degree in public policy from the Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her law degree from Hastings College of Law, University of California, San Francisco.

How to Protect Yourself From Back-Bills
You pay your bill on time, every month. In fact, you have auto pay so you may not read your bill closely from month to month. Then, out of nowhere, you get a notice from your energy company saying your meter has been malfunctioning for two years and you now owe the company $1,000 dollars - yikes!

This has happened to many unsuspecting consumers. It is called a back-bill. Companies must charge customers for the amount of energy used, even if the meter was not functioning properly.


The best way to prevent a back bill is to read your monthly utility bill. You should see a list of charges which include the monthly customer charge, the usage amount with corresponding charge, and additional taxes. If you are only being billed for the customer charge and taxes, something may be wrong. You should be generating some sort of usage - unless the home is vacant and appliances are turned off. If you believe your meter is not functioning properly, notify your utility. Customers can request a meter check to ensure their equipment is functioning properly. If you have problems getting the utility to check your equipment, call the commission's consumer help line, 1-888-333-WUTC (9882). 


If you receive a back-bill, know your rights:

  • Companies are required to allow a customer to pay a back-bill over the same amount of time that it took to accrue the amount in the back-bill. For example, if you receive a back bill to correct a 12-month period, you must be given payment arrangements for at least a 12-month period.
  • You have a right to see how the back-bill was calculated. Ask your utility to show you how it calculated the back-bill.
  • If you are not satisfied with the company's response, you have the right to file a complaint with the commission.

For more information about your rights as a consumer or billing issues, click here.

Scam Alert!
Scammers are always on the lookout for unsuspecting people to take advantage of. Do not become a victim of fraudulent schemes - know your rights! 
In recent months, scammers have called and claimed to be from a local utility or telephone company and threatened to shut off a customer's service for a past-due bill. They demand payment by wire transfer or a prepaid debit card. 
These scams can seem very real. In many cases, caller ID systems are manipulated to make it appear the call is coming from the utility or telephone company when it is not.
It is important to remember utilities and telephone companies will provide several communications before disconnecting service. The company will never require payment be made via wire transfer or prepaid debit cards.
If you receive a suspicious phone call, hang up and call your utility or telephone company directly to confirm the call came from them. You can also call the commission's help line, 1-888-333-WUTC (9882), for more information or assistance with the situation.
Consumers can also report suspicious calls or emails to lead agencies investigating similar scams nationwide: Washington State Attorney General's Office or the Federal Trade Commission.
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Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission
www.utc.wa.gov | 888.333.9882