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Relating to nonsubmetered billing for water or wastewater service.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
A "nonsubmetered master metered utility service" is water utility service that is master metered for an apartment house but is not submetered. Unlike submetering, which requires the installation of individual meters for each unit to determine the real cost of utility usage, master metering involves a single meter that records utility usage for the entire structure. Tenants do not see the bill or pay for usage directly, but instead receive a charge as part of their rental contract that may be subdivided among the tenants according to a specific formula.
HB 4246 would require each municipally-owned utility that bills for nonsubmetered master metered utility service to make publicly available for each entity billed a statement that includes a current copy of the utility's rate structure applicable for the billed service and a list of fees and charges applicable to the billed service.
This bill would also prohibit a municipally-owned utility from charging a dwelling unit base charge for nonsubmetered master metered utility service and from imposing different per-meter base charges on residential and commercial customers. A person would be able to appeal a charge that violates these bill provisions by filing a petition with the Public Utility Commission (PUC). PUC would then hear the appeal de novo, and the municipality would have the burden of proof to establish that the charge is in compliance.
Texas Action supports HB 4246 because it promotes limited government by increasing transparency in municipally-owned utility billing and providing for an appeals process for unfair billing practices.