Many municipal utilities attended the IUB’s Customer Service meetings throughout the past month. As part of those meetings, the IUB discussed an Order that was issued September 4, 2015 in NOI-2014-0004 which asserted jurisdiction over municipal electric and gas utilities in relation to collection of past due debt and regulation of disconnection. In addition, the IUB claims jurisdiction in relation to “initiation and reinstatement” of service if the initiation later leads to disconnection or if the reinstatement was the result of disconnection. This sounds confusing because it is. Basically, the IUB will hold municipal gas and electric utilities accountable to follow its rules on level payment plans and late payment fees if the particular issue leads to disconnection. The IUB reasserted its jurisdiction over deposits and claimed jurisdiction over reinstatement – if the customer had been disconnected. This claim is directly in opposition to the August 4, 2015 Henry County District Court ruling in Mt. Pleasant Municipal Utilities v. Iowa Utilities Board, No. CVEQ005672. In that case the Court held “the IUB has no jurisdiction or regulatory authority to resolve this complaint.” The IUB has appealed this ruling.
On September 21, 2015, IAMU filed a Request for Reconsideration asking the IUB to reconsider the basis upon which they claimed additional jurisdiction over municipal utilities. This is IAMU’s 4th filing in this Docket. IAMU filed additional comments in an earlier payment plan document, NOI-2014-0003 – each time asserting local control over these specific issues. IAMU’s filing stated “[m]atters that are the subject of this dispute have long been considered to be within the home rule and statutory authority of the local regulatory bodies of municipal utilities. It is unclear what problems the Board is trying to solve by claiming jurisdiction with which it is not clearly vested.”
The IUB also determined that the statute of limitations governing bad debt pursuant to chapter 614 of the Iowa Code does not apply to utility debt. However, the IUB believes they have jurisdiction over the time limitations on collection of bad debt and indicated that a rulemaking will be forthcoming.
For questions or additional information, please contact Julie Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.