If you’re not from North Carolina, chances are you may have missed this story in the news last week…

TV investigative report

recent news segment by a Raleigh television station’s investigative reporter cast a negative light on our local investor owned electric utility.

It seems the electric utility surprised some of their customers with additional security deposits on their monthly bill. Enough customers complained to the TV station to prompt an investigative report on their practices.

Early editions of the story claimed the electric utility periodically reviewed all customer deposits. This was later revised to say the utility only reviews deposits when one of three triggers takes place:

  • Two or more late payments
  • Cut-off notice for non-payment
  • Having a payment returned

However, the customer quoted in the story claims this was not the case.

Protect yourself

If you’ve been a reader of the Utility Information Pipeline for any length of time, you know I believe in maintaining adequate security deposits.

I’ve written in the past about requiring accounts on the cut-off list to pay an additional deposit if their deposit is less than your customer service policy would require of a new account.

What this electric utility requires goes even farther by including multiple late payments and returned payments.

Don’t go overboard

In spite of my strong opinions about maintaining sufficient security deposits, I do think routinely running credit checks for current customers without a triggering event is extreme.

The best indicator of how a customer is going to pay in the future is how they have paid in the past. If you have a good paying existing customer, just because their credit report indicates they missed a few payments to other creditors, this doesn’t mean they should be penalized by your utility.