Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HB5555
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Full Text of HB5555  94th General Assembly



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1     AN ACT concerning regulation.
2     Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
3 represented in the General Assembly:
4     Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the Water
5 and Sewer Utility Customer Service Act.
6     Section 5. Application of Public Utilities Act to water and
7 sewer utilities. Except to the extent modified or supplemented
8 by the specific provisions of this Act, the Sections of the
9 Public Utilities Act pertaining to public utilities, public
10 utility rates, and services, and the regulation thereof, are
11 fully and equally applicable to water and sewer rates and
12 services and the regulation thereof, except where the context
13 clearly renders such provisions inapplicable.
14     Section 10. Definitions. The definitions contained in the
15 Public Utilities Act apply to terms used in this Act, unless
16 the context clearly indicates otherwise.
17     Section 15. Customer rights.
18     (a) Within 90 days after the effective date of this
19 amendatory Act of the 94th General Assembly, the Commission
20 shall hold public hearings concerning and establish a water
21 bill of rights for customers of public utilities providing
22 water or sewer service. The water bill of rights must detail
23 what rights a customer has in each of the following situations:
24         (1) The customer's water meter is replaced.
25         (2) The customer's bill increases by more than 20%
26     within one billing period.
27         (3) The customer's water service is terminated.
28         (4) The customer wishes to appeal a termination of
29     service notice.
30         (5) The customer is unable to make payment on a billing



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1     statement.
2         (6) A surcharge or annual reconciliation is filed that
3     will increase the amount billed to the customer.
4         (7) The customer is billed for services provided prior
5     to the date covered by the billing statement.
6         (8) The customer is due to receive a credit.
7 The water bill of rights must also include information
8 concerning the service obligations of the utility and informing
9 the customer about unfair and unethical collection practices
10 and remedies that the customer may pursue for a violation of
11 the customer's rights. The Commission shall also determine the
12 penalties that shall be imposed on the utility for
13 noncompliance with the customer's water bill of rights.
14     (b) No water or sewer public utility may terminate the
15 service of any customer without first providing at least 7
16 days' advance written notice to the customer. The written
17 notice must include a copy of the water bill of rights created
18 under this Section and must notify the customer of the
19 customer's right to appeal the termination. The Commission
20 shall establish, by rule, a minimum payment schedule that must
21 be followed by the customer and the public utility of a
22 customer is disputing an amount billed to the customer or
23 appealing a termination of service and sanctions that may be
24 imposed against any public utility that terminates service to
25 any customer who adheres to the minimum payment schedule
26 established by the Commission. No water or sewer public utility
27 shall terminate service to any customer appealing a termination
28 of service or disputing a billed amount so long as the customer
29 adheres to the minimum payment schedule required by the
30 Commission.
31     A customer must be at least 60 days in arrears before a
32 shutoff notice can be issued. The Commission shall establish
33 procedures to set aside a shutoff notice if it affects the
34 safety and welfare of the community. The procedures shall be
35 published and provided to the municipality or townships served
36 by the utility.



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1     (c) Each water or sewer public utility must provide written
2 notice to each affected customer of any annual reconciliation
3 rate adjustment and when it will go into effect.
4     (d) Each water or sewer public utility must disclose on
5 each billing statement any amount billed that is for service
6 provided prior to the date covered by the billing statement.
7 The disclosure must include the dates for which the prior
8 service is being billed. Each billing statement that includes
9 an amount billed for service provided prior to the date covered
10 by the billing statement must disclose the dates for which that
11 amount is billed and must include a copy of the water bill of
12 rights and a statement of current Commission rules concerning
13 back-billing. The Commission must verify any annual
14 reconciliation in the number of gallons that have been
15 back-billed by a water or sewer public utility and the utility
16 must credit the customer with those gallons, calculated in
17 dollars, with interest at the prime rate.
18     (e) The Commission shall establish by rule an informal
19 complaint process for processing complaints about water and
20 sewer public utilities and shall respond to each complaint by
21 providing the consumer with a copy of the utilities response to
22 the complaint and a copy of the Commission's review of the
23 complaint and its findings. The Commission must provide the
24 consumer with all available options for recourse.
25     (f) Any refund on the billing statement of a customer of a
26 water or sewer public utility must be itemized and state the
27 purpose of the refund.
28     Section 20. Water service for building construction
29 purposes. At the request of any municipality or township within
30 the service area of a public utility that provides water
31 service to customers within the municipality or township, a
32 public utility must (i) require all water service used for
33 building construction purposes to be measured by meter and
34 subject to approved rates and charges for metered water service
35 and (ii) prohibit the unauthorized use of water taken from



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1 hydrants or service lines installed at construction sites.
2     Section 25. Water and sewer or public utilities;
3 subcontractors. The Commission shall adopt rules to direct
4 for-profit water and sewer public utilities to conform to
5 standards that protect consumers from irresponsible
6 subcontractors contracted by a for-profit water or sewer public
7 utility. The rules must provide for notice to the consumer of
8 the proper kind of identification that the subcontractor must
9 present to the customer, prohibit the subcontractor from
10 soliciting or receiving payment of any kind for any service
11 provided by the water or sewer public utility, and establish
12 sanctions for violations.
13     Section 30. Water and sewer public utilities; annual
14 reconciliation charges. The Commission must establish by rule a
15 formula for determining (i) the amount of unmetered water that
16 a unit of local government and customers can expect to pay for
17 in order to protect the public and (ii) the percentage of
18 unmetered water that reflects environmental waste that is the
19 result of a water or sewer public utility's management
20 inefficiencies and neglect. The formula and the utility's
21 compliance with existing conservation agreements must be
22 considered as part of all rate cases and annual reconciliations
23 associated with that utility. The Commission shall establish
24 sanctions for violations of any conservation agreements.
25     Section 35. Meter malfunction; testing.
26     (a) If a public utility furnishing water to any customer
27 determines that a meter owned by the public utility has
28 malfunctioned, then the public utility is prohibited from
29 charging the customer during the malfunction unless the
30 customer intentionally caused the malfunction.
31     (b) If requested by the Commission or by the customer whose
32 use is measured by the meter, a public utility furnishing water
33 to any customer must conduct a test to determine the accuracy



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1 of the meter. Upon receipt of the written request of the
2 Commission or the customer, the utility must use a company
3 authorized by the Commission to conduct the test. The utility
4 shall charge the customer for the conduct of the test in the
5 amount authorized by the Commission by rule.
6     (c) The Commission may establish by rule a minimum schedule
7 for testing of water meters and any tests conducted thereunder
8 must be conducted at the utility's expense.
9     Section 40. Rate increases; public forums. When any public
10 utility providing water or sewer service proposes a rate
11 increase, prior to the date set for the hearing, a public forum
12 on the increase must be conducted in a location within 45
13 minutes drive time of the location where the increase will take
14 effect and the public utility must provide 30 days' advance
15 notice of each public forum to the governing body of those
16 units of local government affected by the increases. The day
17 and time of the forum shall be selected so as to encourage the
18 greatest public participation. Reports and comments made
19 during or as a result of the public forum must be made
20 available to the hearing officials and reviewed as part of the
21 hearing for the rate case.
22     Section 45. Water and sewer utilities; low usage. Each
23 public utility that provides water and sewer service must
24 establish a unit rate, subject to review by the Commission,
25 that applies only to those customers who use less than 100
26 gallons of water in any billing period.
27     Section 50. Water and sewer utilities; separate meters.
28 Each public utility that provides water and sewer service must
29 offer separate rates for water and sewer service to any
30 commercial or residential customer who uses separate meters to
31 measure each of those services. In order for the separate rate
32 to apply, a combination of meters must be used to measure the
33 amount of water that reaches the sewer system and the amount of



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1 water that does not reach the sewer system.
2     Section 905. The Public Utilities Act is amended by
3 changing Section 9-223 as follows:
4     (220 ILCS 5/9-223)  (from Ch. 111 2/3, par. 9-223)
5     Sec. 9-223. Fire protection charge.
6     (a) The Commission may authorize any public utility engaged
7 in the production, storage, transmission, sale, delivery or
8 furnishing of water to impose a fire protection charge, in
9 addition to any rate authorized by this Act, sufficient to
10 cover a reasonable portion of the cost of providing the
11 capacity, facilities and the water necessary to meet the fire
12 protection needs of any municipality or public fire protection
13 district. Such fire protection charge shall be in the form of a
14 fixed amount per bill and shall be shown separately on the
15 utility bill of each customer of the municipality or fire
16 protection district. Any filing by a public utility to impose
17 such a fire protection charge or to modify a charge shall be
18 made pursuant to Section 9-201 of this Act. Any fire protection
19 charge imposed shall reflect the costs associated with
20 providing fire protection service for each municipality or fire
21 protection district. No such charge shall be imposed directly
22 on any municipality or fire protection district for a
23 reasonable level of fire protection services unless provided
24 for in a separate agreement between the municipality or the
25 fire protection district and the utility.
26     (b) Within one year after the effective date of this
27 amendatory Act of the 94th General Assembly, the Commission
28 shall conduct at least 3 public forums to evaluate the purpose
29 and use of each fire protection charge imposed under this
30 Section. At least one forum must be held in northern Illinois,
31 at least one forum must be held in central Illinois, and at
32 least one forum must be held in southern Illinois. The
33 Commission must invite a representative from each municipality
34 and fire protection district affected by a fire protection



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1 charge under this Section to attend a public forum. The
2 Commission shall report its findings concerning
3 recommendations concerning the purpose and use of each fire
4 protection charge to the General Assembly no later than the
5 last day of the veto session in 2006.
6 (Source: P.A. 84-617.)
7     Section 999. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
8 becoming law.