Natural GasThe SCC regulates Virginia's investor-owned natural gas utilities. Its goal is to ensure Virginia consumers receive adequate utility services at just and reasonable rates.
Yes. Commission rules allow utilities to request a deposit since service is provided in advance of billing and payment; however, the maximum request is limited to the estimated liability for two months usage. Additionally, the utility must allow residential customers to pay a large deposit request in three installments. If satisfactory credit (timely payment of monthly bills) has been established after one year for residential customers, or two years for commercial customers, the deposit will be refunded.
All utilities impose a flat monthly basic customer charge, as approved by the Commission, designed to recover certain fixed expenses associated with making utility service available to your location. The utility incurs these expenses regardless of how much energy or water you consume. These expenses may include customer account expenses such metering, billing, and payment processing as well as fixed costs associated with your individual service line such as depreciation, maintenance, and financing costs. The utility may or may not show this charge as a separate line item on your bill.
Two things are responsible for changes in natural gas prices: the wholesale market for gas (price volatility), and the weather (usage volatility). The combination of these two factors largely impact the bottom line of your bill. (Access a detailed explanation and example of volatility scenarios.)
Yes, but the Commission expects utilities to minimize reliance on estimates. As a practical matter utilities must estimate readings from time to time. Usage may be estimated for various reasons: inclement weather, lack of access to the meter, or the malfunction of equipment. Since the meter continuously accumulates actual usage -- that is, the meter is not "reset" to zero -- estimated usage errors are self-adjusting with the next actual meter reading.
Yes. Before disconnecting service, a utility must mail a written notice to the customer at least 10 calendar days prior to the possible termination date. This notification requirement may be accomplished either through a notice on the regular monthly bill or through a separate mailing.
When you receive a service termination notice, if you are able to pay the amount due in full, do so immediately through a method to ensure it will post in the utility's accounting system before your shut-off date. It is always a good idea to call the utility to make sure they have received your payment. If you are unable to pay the specified amount in full, contact the utility to see if they will be willing to accept payment arrangements. Do not wait to act until your service has been terminated since it will be more expensive to have your service reconnected than to maintain service.
The Commission does not adjudicate damage claims. Damage claims need to be filed directly with the utility. If you are unhappy with the decision of the company, you may pursue options available through the regular court system.
Your gas meter is a device that measures the amount of gas in cubic feet you use in a given time period. It tracks how much gas flows through it by counting the filling and emptying of the compartments inside the meter. To read your meter:
- Stand directly in front of the meter (this will give you the best view of where the dials are pointing).
- The dials rotate in different directions. Read and record the number from each dial starting from the left and moving right.
- When the hand is between two numbers or has just passed a number, record the smaller number (e.g. hand is between the 7 and 8 or has just passed the 7, record the number 7).
- When the hand appears to be directly on a number, before recording that number, be sure to check the dial to the right. If the hand has not passed zero, record the smaller number instead (e.g. the third dial is on the number 5; however the dial to the right has not reached 0, so the dial would be read as 4).
- Your consumption can be determined by subtracting your previous reading from your present reading. This will give you the volume of gas used in hundreds of cubic feet.