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For Consumers

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Consumer Affairs Office

The Commission's Consumer Affairs Office, also known as CAO, provides information and dispute resolution assistance to consumers. The CAO also administers the Cold Weather Rule, Link-Up America and Lifeline programs. CAO staff are in constant contact with ratepayers and other Commission stakeholders, including consumer advocacy agencies and other state agencies.

Complaints and inquiries are handled within CAO. Complaints are often forwarded to the utility for review and response to CAO staff. Under Commission rules, utilities must respond within a specified period or provide status reports pending further investigation. In most cases, these complaints are handled informally. However, in some cases, the complaint is forwarded to the Commission for resolution.

 

Mediation and Information Services

Q: How does the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) offer assistance with utility company disputes and/or inquires?

A: The MPUC regulates the rates, practices and service areas of a number of natural gas, telephone and electric utilities operating in Minnesota. The Consumer Affairs Office assists customers of regulated utilities by mediating disputes between customers and companies. Generally, the areas of those disputes involve service, billing, meter reading, rates, the Cold Weather Rule, Hot Weather Rule and telephone discounts. The Consumer Affairs Office serves as a consumer mediator to enforce state laws and Commission rules.

Q: What types of complaints does the MPUC NOT offer assistance on?
  • cellular or mobile phone service
  • cable television
  • water
  • billing disputes between roommates or tenants and landlords
  • damage to customer's property by utilities
  • damage to utility's equipment by customers
  • easements and easement rights
  • customer- owned telephone equipment
  • disputes with municipal utilities or electric cooperatives

Q: What should I do when I have a complaint?

A: If you have a dispute with a utility company, you must first try to resolve your complaint with the company providing the service or the company billing for the service. If you are unsuccessful in resolving the dispute, you may file a complaint with the proper regulatory agency. Not all aspects of utility services and practices fall under the jurisdiction of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Before filing your complaint, please view the "Who Can Help Me" page on the MPUC web site.

Q: How do I file a complaint? Do I need to get a form from the MPUC first?

A: The Consumer Affairs Office handles complaints on an informal basis which allows customer to get assistance without filing a more costly and time- consuming formal complaint. Customers do not need an attorney to file a complaint which can be mailed, faxed or scanned and emailed to Consumer Affairs Office. 

Q: What happens to a complaint after it is received by the MPUC?

A: All complaints/ inquiries are reviewed to be sure the issues are within the MPUC's jurisdiction. If complaints/inquires are not within our jurisdiction, the MPUC refers the customer to a more appropriate agency or forwards the complaint to the appropriate agency.

If the issues are within the MPUC's jurisdiction, the MPUC forwards the completed complaint form along with any documents a customer provides to the utility company involved. The company is directed to investigate the complaint and to report the results of the investigation to the MPUC within a prescribed time period, usually 30 business days.

In most cases, the person filing the complaint receives notification of the company's response at the same time that the company files the response with the MPUC. The MPUC reviews the complaint and the company's response to make sure the company fully addressed all of the issues and that the company's actions are consistent with the relevant laws, MPUC rules and decisions, and industry practices. After this review, the MPUC decides what additional action, if any, is required. If it appears from the complaint and from the company's response that the company may not be in compliance with the law, the MPUC will take appropriate action.
Q: How do I reach the Consumer Affairs Office if I have questions before filing the complaint?

A: MPUC's mediators are available Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. to answer any questions you may have before completing and submitting the complaint form. Please email consumer.puc@state.mn.us with your inquiry or call 651.296.0406 or 1.800.657.3782.