Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
The Office of Consumer Services provides direct and timely assistance to consumers in resolving disputes with utilities. The Home Energy Fair Practices Act (HEFPA) provides residential energy customers with comprehensive protections in areas such as application for service, customer billing, and payment and complaint procedures. The Department’s HEFPA Consumer Guide describes the highlights of those rules related to:
- Application for Service
- Service Termination
- Special Protections
- Medical Emergencies
- Medical Emergencies-Life Support Systems
- Elderly, Blind or Disabled
- Cold Weather Protections
- Deferred Payments Agreements
- Third Party Notifications
- Shared Meter Conditions
- Delayed Billing
- Late Payment Charges
*For PSEG LI consumers, DPS follows the Consumer Complaint Procedures outlined in the Long Island Power Authority’s (LIPA).
Consumer Complaint Process
The DPS complaint process has three levels of investigation:
1. Initial Complaints
2. Informal Hearing or Review
3. Appeal of the Informal Hearing or Review
In an effort to ensure that utilities fulfill their obligation to provide effective service, when DPS receives a customer complaint, DPS will first ask the utility to contact the customer and resolve the issue. If the utility does not contact the customer with its initial acknowledgement, does not provide the customer with its response within two weeks or the matter remains unresolved after the customer has received the response, the customer should contact DPS. DPS’ Office of Consumer Services will conduct a full investigation of the complaint and notify the customer in writing or by telephone of the decision, the reasons for the decision and action the customer may take if he or she is not satisfied.
If you believe the initial decision on your complaint is wrong…
You can request in writing, by telephone or in person, within 15 days of the initial decision, an informal hearing or informal review.
After your request is reviewed, you will receive a letter stating:
- When and where the informal hearing or review will be held (you do not have to be present at an informal review);
- Asking you to bring certain documents to the informal hearing or send them to the informal reviewer;
- Informing you of your right to be represented by the person of your choice.
If you and the utility are unable to settle the complaint, the hearing officer or reviewer will make a decision on your complaint and notify you, through the mail, of the decision.
If you believe the Informal Hearing Officer's or Reviewer's Decision is wrong...
You can appeal, within 15 days of the decision, to DPS LI and LIPA.
Your written appeal must contend that there was an error in fact or law by the hearing officer or reviewer which affected the decision or that new evidence not previously available, would affect the decision. DPS LI will review the appeal and recommend a decision to LIPA. LIPA will make a decision on the appeal in conjunction with DPS LI’s recommendation and may uphold, change, reject, or return the decision to the hearing officer or reviewer for further consideration, or may find further proceedings are necessary. You will be notified of LIPA’s decision. The decision will contain additional information about action that you may take if you believe the decision continues to contain an error in fact or law which affected the decision, or that new evidence not previously available, would affect the decision.
File a Complaint
Before Filing Your Complaint with the Department of Public Service:
- First seek the assistance of your utility provider – they are required by law to assist you.
- If you are unable to get a satisfactory resolution from your utility provider, then contact the Department’s Office of Consumer Services to file a complaint using any of the listed methods below.