The Public Service Commission of West Virginia is here to help you resolve customer disputes with utilities, including electric, natural gas, landline telephone services, third party towing cases, some cable service problems and most water and wastewater companies. Our highly trained Consumer Affairs Technicians receive approximately 10,000 requests for assistance each year. Some of the matters we can assist you with include billing disputes, disconnections, meter reading problems, customer deposits, repairs and quality of service.
The PSC does not regulate internet providers, cable television rates, cellular, wireless or long distance phone companies, propane gas distributors or, in most cases*, the rates of municipally-owned utilities.
*Jurisdiction of the Commission may be triggered by receipt of a petition signed by not less than 25 % of the customers served by a non-locally rate regulated municipally operated utility.
Step 1: Contact Your Utility
First, it is very important that you attempt to resolve your problem directly by calling the utility company.
When you call the utility, have your account number and the specifics of your complaint available, including dates of outages and any prior contact you have had with the utility about this problem. Be sure and write down the name of the utility representative you speak with.
If you do not hear from the utility within a reasonable amount of time or you are not satisfied with the utility’s response, you may contact the PSC.
Step 2: Informal Complaints
Informal Complaints are handled by the Commission’s Consumer Affairs Technicians. Attempting resolution of your problem through the Informal Complaint process is strongly recommended. Through the Informal Complaint process, the Technicians will talk with the utility and attempt to resolve your dispute.
Approximately 97% of the Informal Complaints the PSC receives are resolved within 30 days. This saves you time and the potential expense of hiring an attorney.
There are several ways to initiate an Informal Complaint:
Online: Complete the online informal complaint form and you should receive confirmation of your filing before the end of the next business day.
Phone 1-800-642-8544: Our Technicians are available to assist you weekdays from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. When you call, please have your utility account number and a description of the problem, dates of outages and prior contact with the utility regarding this problem.
Letter: A Technician will investigate your complaint and get back to you. Please include your utility account number and a description of the problem, dates of outages and prior contact with the utility regarding this problem. Send your letter to: 201 Brooks Street, Charleston, WV 25301
If your Informal Complaint is not resolved satisfactorily, Technicians can help you with the Commission’s Formal Complaint process.
Step 3: Formal Complaints
A Formal Complaint, where you will be the “Complainant” and the utility is the “Defendant,” is a more detailed, lengthy and possibly expensive method to pursue a dispute with a utility company if you are not satisfied with the results of your Informal Complaint. A Formal Complaint, which takes an average of five months to resolve, is a legal proceeding in front of the Commission or an Administrative Law Judge that requires the utility and certain classes of customers, to obtain legal counsel. These complaints also involve a variety of Commission Staff, including attorneys, financial analysts and engineers and the opportunity for outside parties to intervene.
The Formal Complaint process is different from the Informal Complaint process because it involves a legal proceeding before the Commission. This means that you and the utility must present facts to the Commission about issues raised in your complaint. A Formal Complaint case may include discovery (meaning you and the utility may be required to answer written questions regarding the dispute) and you may be required to attend a hearing before the Commission or an Administrative Law Judge.
Individuals or businesses may file Formal Complaints. Individuals, sole proprietorships and partnerships are not required to hire an attorney to file a Formal Complaint. Corporations, limited liability companies and political subdivisions must, however, have a lawyer to make filings that are not preliminary in nature and to participate in any scheduled hearings.
Complaints may be retained by the three member Commission, however, most are referred to the Administrative Law Judge Division for processing.
Upon the filing of a Formal Complaint, a Staff Attorney and members of the Commission’s technical staff are assigned to investigate and present an independent recommendation to the Commission. Many matters are resolved based on the filings of the complainant and the utility. However, some complaint cases require a hearing where evidence from all participants, including Staff, is presented.
When an Administrative Law Judge issues a Recommended Decision the parties have a right to challenge that decision by submitting written exceptions (a type of appeal) to the Commission within 15 days. The Commission enters Final Orders in all matters.
Learn more about filing a Formal Complaint.