PRC looks into propane services, consumer rights

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Lee Ross

The Public Regulation Commission is putting the propane business in the hot seat.

As a result of a Senate Bill 468, passed in 2009, the PRC has been tasked with finding a way to protect consumers' rights when it comes to propane service.

"There's no question, we have to do it," said David King, a PRC commissioner. "We did not bring this to the Legislature; they brought it to us."

King said some of the practices in the propane business caused some "indigestion" among legislators.

An oversight committee was formed with members of New Mexico Propane Gas Association and propane companies, a lobbyist, consumers, an electric cooperative, a representative of the AARP and members of the PRC.

Part of what has been put together, so far, is a listing of information for propane consumers on the PRC Web site, www.nmprc.state.nm.us. It says consumers should be notified at least 72 hours before disconnection of service for nonpayment, and propane customers who expect to have tight budgets should discuss payment options with their propane dealer, as well as other tips and information.

King expects the PRC will have a bill that would strengthen the rights of consumers to present at the 2011 legislative session. With input on the committee from both consumers and the propane industry, the bill may strike a balance between the two groups' interests.

"We're in the business where we don't make everybody happy," he said.


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