Frequently Asked Questions
The following page contains answers to questions commonly asked by New Mexico
utility customers. This information applies to utilities regulated by the New Mexico
Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC). These utilities include electric, natural
gas, for-profit water and sewage companies and certain telecommunication companies.
- What kind of problems can the Consumer Relations Division assist me with?
The Consumer Relations Division can investigate your inquiry or dispute if it
a. Utility rates/charges;
b. A proposed or recent disconnection of service;
c. Responsibility for a bill;
d. A request for a deposit;
e. Refusal of service by a utility;
f. The quality and type of utility service;
g. A utility’s policies and procedures;
h. Utility installations
i. Propane deliveries
The Consumer Relations Division CANNOT help with inquiries or disputes
a. Merchandise sold to you by a public utility, repair or maintenance contracts for
your heating and/or cooling equipment;
b. Complaints against landlords/property owners concerning high bills,
disconnection of service, etc.;
c. Complaints concerning oil companies;
d. Complaints regarding Municipally-owned utilities;
e. Complaints regarding Mutual Domestic Water Associations;
f. Collection of damage claims against utilities
g. Propane tank rental fees
h. Propane safety issues
i. Cost of propane
- If I am requesting utility service, will I have to pay a deposit?
If you cannot establish credit; you have left owing an unpaid balance to a utility
company; you are chronically delinquent or you have interfered with or diverted the
service of the utility, you will be required to pay a deposit.
- If I have to pay a deposit, how much will I have to pay?
Deposits for a residential customer shall not be more than one-sixth of that
residential customer’s estimated annual billings or not more than one and one-half (1-1/2)
times that residential customer’s estimated maximum monthly bill. Deposits for telephone service cannot exceed
three (3) times the average monthly bill for intrastate services provided by the carrier for the same class of
- When do I get my deposit back?
A company shall promptly credit or refund the amount of deposit together with
accrued interest due to any residential customer who has not been chronically delinquent
for the twelve-month period from the date of deposit. Deposits may be used to pay any
balance on your account. Customer Deposit Interest Rate for 2013 is 0.76%.
- How often will I receive my bill and when is it due?
A utility shall render a bill to every residential customer for each billing period in
accordance with applicable tariffs. This billing period is usually thirty (30) days. A
residential customer is given at least twenty (20) calendar days from the date of issuance of a bill for payment in full before the bill is considered delinquent.
- Are there equal payment plans available?
Electric and gas utilities offer a budget payment plan to its residential customers.
The budget payment plan shall provide the residential customer with a method of
levelizing the bill for utility service. It shall be designed to avoid the accumulation of an
unpaid balance, which will be burdensome to pay in a single payment. The budget
payment plan is available to any residential customer who is current in payments for
utility service. The plan is based on a 12-month period, with 12 equal payments per
month. This plan can assist those customers who are on fixed incomes.
- What is the monthly service charge that appears on my electric and gas bills?
The monthly service/access charge is the base charge for providing service to
your residence. It covers costs such as processing accounts, meter reading and billing.
The charge will appear on the monthly bill even if you use no service during the billing
- Am I responsible for a bill incurred by someone I lived with?
If the utility service is in your name, you are responsible for paying the bills no
matter who used the service. If you share a house or an apartment with someone else, and
the service is in the other person’s name, you are not held responsible for paying the bill
if that person moves out. If you decide to change the account into your name and the
person owing the previous bill still lives with you, you can be held responsible for that
- If I have been billed incorrectly, what should I do?
The first thing you should do is contact the utility company. The companies are
obligated to investigate the complaint and report the results to you. If the dispute cannot
be resolved, they shall advise you that you may file a complaint with the New Mexico
Public Regulation Commission.
- If I cannot pay my entire telephone bill, what can I do to keep my local dial
As long as you pay your monthly bill for local service, a telephone company
cannot disconnect your local dial tone.
- Can I restrict the use of my phone from long-distance, collect calls or 900
As a customer of the telephone company, you can place a toll block for long
distance on request; however, your local company may charge a fee for this service. If
you do not pay your long-distance charges, the company can place an involuntary toll
block on the account. There are also 900 and collect call blocks that can be placed on your phone.
These blocks restrict anyone from calling you collect or dialing 900 pay-per-call numbers
from your phone. Telephone companies do not charge for these services.
- I was living with a relative in their home. My relative then died. Am I responsible for the balance on their utility bill?
Only a SPOUSE is responsible for the debt accrued by a spouse for services rendered on an account in their spouse's name. A non-spouse is not responsible.
- My utility company wrote off a balance of mine as bad debt. Can they come back at me later and try to recover that debt?
YES, the utility or the customer, could bring a private cause of action for amounts underpaid or overcharged (collected or billed) for the previous FOUR years.
- My electric bill is high. What can I do?
a. Please contact Consumer Relations and provide the phone number and address for your home. We’ll then have your electric company provide us a statement of usage and billing for the past few years to compare your usage. If your usage appears higher than this month of last year, we’ll have them do a re-read of the meter. In addition, we recommend the following steps to lower your electrical usage of your home now:
b. Contact your electric company to run the energy audit of your home.
c. Perform a “breaker test”, where you flip off all the switches on your breaker box in your home. Check the electrical meter to see if it’s turning while the breaker box is turned off. If the meter moves, then you may have meter creep, and please contact your electric compnay immediately. Then slowly turn the switches back on, one by one, while monitoring the meter. Check to see if the meter starts to turn rapidly while each of these switches if flipped back on. This will show you which zone is using the most electricity.
d. If the usage is correct, please contact your electric company to setup a payment arrangement, so the outstanding part of the bill can be paid over several months.
- What areas does the PRC have jurisdiction over?
The PRC regulates (has jurisdiction over) consumer issues relating to:
- Insurance – Life, annuities, health, Medicare supplement, long term care, credit life and disability, property and casualty: auto, home insurance complaints.
- Insurance –Company and agent licensing.
- Insurance – Workers compensation complaints, title insurance complaints, and insurance fraud.
Note: Managed health care plans are not under the statutory jurisdiction of §8-8-8, NMSA 1922.214.171.124.6 OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this rule is to establish procedures for filing and processing adverse determination grievances and administrative grievances regarding actions taken or inaction by a health care insurer.
- Insurance – Managed health care complaints involving HMO, EPO, PPO plans and entities that purchases or is authorized to purchase health care benefits pursuant to the New Mexico Health Care Purchasing Act.
- Insurance – Aftermarket warranties/guarantees for both homeowners and automobile policyholders.
- Insurance – Dental insurance.
- Transportation – billing issues for towing companies, ambulances, limousines, and taxis.
- Transportation – intrastate motor carrier registration.
- Pipeline safety – enforcement of state and federal regulations regarding oil and natural gas pipeline safety.
- Utilities – including natural gas, propane, investor-owned water and sewer, and electric companies.
- Utilities – electrical co-operatives.
- Telecom – Incumbent Local Exchange Companies (“ILECs”) This includes Qwest, Windstream, other local phone companies – rates, service quality, repair and delay issues, and billing issues for business and residential customers.
- Telecom – Intrastate long distance carriers, but not for their rates (deregulated).
- Telecom – Slamming and cramming for telecommunications providers.
- Telecom – Limited authority (consumer protection, billing issues) over Cellular Providers.
- Telecom – Calling cards if they are issued by a Local Exchange Carrier or Reseller for intrastate use, but not rates (deregulated).
- Telecom – Competitive Local Exchange Companies (“CLEC’s”). This includes AT&T, Verizon Business, and several other companies that provide local service – rates and service quality for all customers and services. The Commission generally does not interfere with rate settings for CLECs.
- Telecom – Long Distance Resellers-These are companies that purchase intrastate long distance minutes and resell them to consumers.
- Moving companies - intrastate (within the state) moves
- State Fire Marshall – Administration of the Fire Training Academy, Fire Service Support, Arson Investigations, and Code Enforcement.
- Corporations – Issue certificates of incorporation/authority, oversees the organization and registration of limited liability companies, and verifies the completeness and accuracy of related charter documents.
The PRC does NOT regulate (no jurisdiction) over consumer issues relating to:
- Tracking and monitoring of complaints against businesses operating in the state is done by the New Mexico Attorney General. http://www.nmag.gov
- Obtain a Combined Reporting System (CRS) Identification Number, it is used to report and pay tax collected on gross receipts from business conducted in New Mexico – contact the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department. http://www.tax.newmexico.gov
- Employer Identification Number (EIN) - contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
- Manufacturer’s warranties and defective products – contact the New Mexico Attorney General. http://www.nmag.gov
- Moving companies - interstate (between the states) moves - contact https://www.protectyourmove.gov
- Unlawful money transfer - Contact the USPS - https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov
- Self-insured health plans with the exception of entities that purchase or are authorized to purchase health care benefits pursuant to the New Mexico Health Care Purchasing Act.
- Individuals denied coverage and uninsurable – contact the New Mexico Medical Insurance Pool. http://www.nmmip.org
- Self-insured plans – The PRC will process complaints but doesn’t have jurisdiction.
- Internet Service Providers (ISP’s).
- Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP).
- Determinations of liability damages – contact an attorney.
- Inter-lata long distance carrier rates and terms of service.
- Cellular Provider and pager – rates.
- Internet fraud or crimes. http://www.iC3.gov
- Landline inside wiring and maintenance plans – rates and service.
- Complaints regarding municipally-owned utilities – contact the City or County of jurisdiction.
- Complaints regarding gas associations/cooperatives.
- Complaints concerning oil companies.
- Collection of damage claims against utilities.
- Merchandise sold by a public utility, repair or maintenance contracts for heating and/or cooling equipment.
- Complaints regarding water and sewer associations/cooperatives - contact the New Mexico Rural Water Association http://www.nmrwa.org/ 1-800-819-9893.
- Propane tank rental fees – are not regulated.
- Cost of propane – is not regulated.
- Easements, permits, rights of way (property issues).
- Public school insurance issues – contact the New Mexico Public Schools Insurance Authority. http://www.nmpsia.com/
- Auto warranties – The PRC will process complaints but doesn’t have jurisdiction.
- Rising Gas prices – Standards and Consumer Services Division at the New Mexico Department of Agriculture http://nmdaweb.nmsu.edu/ or (575) 646-3007.