WDAY.com |

North Dakota's #1 news website 10,650,498 page views — March 2014

Published May 27, 2009, 12:00 AM

MPS customers may get break on utility bills

Flood victims get consideration
The Moorhead Public Service Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to offer customers a break if their utility bills swelled because of spring flooding.

By: Dave Olson, INFORUM

Flood victims get consideration

The Moorhead Public Service Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to offer customers a break if their utility bills swelled because of spring flooding.

Under a policy adopted by the commission, Moorhead Public Service will give special consideration to customers charged for excessive consumption of electric, water and wastewater services during an emergency situation.

If they request it, customers could have all or part of flood-related charges covered by credits.

The policy was made retroactive to this spring’s flood and affects at least 15 Oakport Township homes that appear to have higher than normal March bills, according to the utility.

“We should be able to show some compassion. These are our fellow citizens,” Commission President Kenneth Norman said in voting for the policy.

In 13 of the Oakport Township cases, excessive charges averaged $46.

With the other two customers, utility costs were $1,900 and $795 above normal.

Those situations involved basements that were flooded after water was not shut off.

MPS General Manager Bill Schwandt said basement flooding can be made worse when water heaters start to float and the pipes connected to them break.

Before voting on the policy, commissioners questioned why some customers did not shut off their water during the flood.

MPS Communications Director Doug Rogness said when some homeowners called emergency response centers for guidance before evacuating, they were told not to try to shut off the water if they were unsure how to do it, or if there was a risk of electrocution.

Schwandt said the new policy is intended to give customers a third option if insurance and FEMA assistance is denied.

Under the policy:

  • MPS staff has the authority to reduce or void excessive utility charges up to $500.
  • Customers with excessive utility charges above $500 may ask the commission to have the charges reduced or voided.
  • Reducing or voiding high wastewater charges, based on water usage, must be agreed to by the city of Moorhead.

Special payment arrangements will be available to any customer who has high utility charges due to a disaster.

Schwandt said the utility has given breaks in the past, including in 1997 when 12 homes were flooded with clean water from hydrants at a cost of $1,800.

Homeowners were not billed for the water.

Also in 1997, special credits were issued to about 38 flooded homes, totaling about $600. In addition, electric credits were given to residents near the river whose power bills were affected by the need to power pumps.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

Tags: