Consumer Bill of Rights

The Consumer Bill of Rights (CBOR) provides safeguards for District utility consumers that use natural gas, electricity and telecommunications services in the District’s competitive utility markets. It’s an important, binding document that defines the relationship and responsibilities of utility service providers and consumers.

Access the complete Consumer Bill of Rights in the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations.
The CBOR is designed for residential consumers and was adopted to promote administrative efficiency and uniformity. It provides information on the rules governing services provided by the three utility companies, energy suppliers, and local telecommunications carriers. It also establishes consumer protection laws for enforcement authority to ensure District residents are adequately protected.
The CBOR covers the procedures and steps consumers and providers must follow when it comes to billing, payments, use of consumer information, disconnection/reconnection of service, consumer inquiries, and informal/formal complaints.
Below are a few noteworthy consumer rights, rules and responsibilities addressed in the CBOR:
  • Billing
    All energy and telecommunications bills must include the name and phone number of the DCPSC and the Office of the People’s Counsel. Bills from energy suppliers must also include emergency telephone numbers for Washington Gas or Pepco, as applicable.
  • Use of customer information
    Consumers are not required to disclose their Social Security numbers to a utility, energy supplier or local telecommunications service provider to obtain or maintain services. Unless consumers consent in writing, the utilities, energy suppliers, or local telecommunications service providers may not disclose or use information about consumers (or information consumers provide to the utilities) for any purpose.
  • Disconnection/reconnection of service
    A utility cannot disconnect residential service unless a disconnection notice has been sent to consumers at the billing address by either first class mail or other digital means at least 15 (10 days for utilities providing telecommunication services) prior to the date of the proposed disconnection.
  • Customer inquiries and complaints
    If a complaint cannot be resolved between the consumer and the utility, energy supplier, or local telecommunications service provider, the utility, energy supplier or telecommunications service provider must inform the consumer of the right to contact the DCPSC for resolution, and advise the consumer of the availability of the Office of the People’s Counsel to assist in resolving a dispute before the DCPSC.
  • Public access to rules and rates
    Each utility, energy supplier, or local telecommunications service provider must have Spanish translation services available during normal business hours at no cost to consumers.
  • Formal hearing procedures
    A formal hearing will, if appropriate, be scheduled 45 days after the filing of a complaint response. The DCPSC Office of Consumer Services will notify consumers at least 14 days prior to the hearing date unless the parties agree to a shorter time.
Created in 1979, the CBOR establishes the rights and responsibilities of consumers and service providers in the natural gas, electric, and local telephone services, as well as enforcement authority to ensure District residents are adequately protected.
The DCPSC addressed the emergence of competition in all three of the utility sectors by updating and revising the CBOR in 2009 to cover all utility service companies. During the revision process, the Commission sought public input through a CBOR Working Group composed of representatives from the Office of the People’s Counsel, Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, civic associations, the utility companies and competitive suppliers/providers.