Complaints Regarding Regulated Utility Services (Telecommunications, Gas, and Electric)
Complaints Regarding Non- Regulated Utility Services
Utilities operated as public utility districts (PUDs), cooperatives (co-ops), and municipal utilities are not regulated by the WUTC, and the Public Counsel Unit is not involved with matters concerning these types of utilities. PUD, municipal, or co-op utility customers should directly contact their provider with any billing or service quality issues.
PUDs are municipal corporations that are run by PUD commissioners who are elected by those who reside in a district. If you have a complaint regarding a PUD, contact your local PUD Board of Commissioners.
Municipal Electric Companies, such as Seattle City Light, are owned and operated by a city. Complaints about these types of utilities should be directed to the city management, which is usually the city council, or you may contact the utility directly.
Cooperatives are owned by their members. Generally, individuals form co-ops when they live outside the service area of another electricity provider. Complaints should be made directly to the co-op or the Consumer Resource Center at the Attorney General’s Office.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) regulates the rates and service of private or investor owned utility and transportation companies. These include companies such as Avista, Puget Sound Energy, PacifiCorp, Cascade Natural Gas, and NW Natural Gas. The WUTC’s consumer protection specialists are able to assist with billing disputes, service complaints, disconnect notices, and more. Please note that the WUTC does not take complaints regarding public utility districts (PUDs) or municipal utilities. If your service is provided by a public utility district or municipal utility, you will need to contact your provider for assistance. For a detailed list of complaints the UTC will accept, please read When to Call the Commission.
Submit a Complaint with the UTC
Help with Energy Bills
Conservation is a direct and often simple way to reduce energy costs. The WUTC offers tips on how to conserve energy in your home. Many investor-owned gas and electric utilities offer energy conservation programs to customers. In many cases, though, conserving energy usage is not enough to make ends meet.
Many Washington residents face difficult financial circumstances and require some help. Utilities typically have funds available to help reduce the burden of monthly energy bills for customers with qualifying income levels. Contact your utility if you are having difficulty paying your electric or natural gas bill. Additionally, Washington’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program provides federal assistance for energy customers who meet income and other eligibility requirements. The Energy Assistance Program website provides information about rate assistance on a county-by-county basis, including municipal, co-op, and regulated utilities.
Additionally, budget billing programs reduce the burden of higher energy bills during the winter by charging customers a monthly flat fee based on average usage.
Telephone bills can be complicated to read and comprehend. This Guide to Your Telephone Bill helps explain the services, charges, fees and taxes you may see on your landline telephone bill.
There is a Lifeline Program for income-qualifying customers. For more information, please visit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website.
General Consumer Information
The WUTC provides additional consumer resources, including The Smart Consumer Guide: Public Utility Services. This guide answers many frequently asked questions regarding electric, gas, telephone, and water companies regulated by the WUTC. For more information on WUTC consumer services, click here.
Additionally, the FCC offers valuable information and assistance to customers. The FCC’s Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) develops and implements the Commission’s consumer policies, including disability access. CGB is the public face of the FCC through outreach and education, as well as through Consumer Center, which is responsible for responding to consumer inquiries and complaints.
The FCC has jurisdiction over telecommunications, internet, radio, satellite dish, television and cable broadcast, and cellular phone services. CGB also maintains collaborative partnerships with state, local, and tribal governments in critical areas such as emergency preparedness and implementation of new technologies. For more information, click here.