Can my electric or water company refuse to serve me? I have been doing research and have only found situations in which the bills aren't paid on time or at all and I don't care about that. Assuming the bills are all paid on time, can a utility company refuse me service for arbitrary reasons e.g. my political views?

1 Answer 1


This is a matter of state law, and so could in theory vary from state to state. But I think that in most, if not all, US states, a public utility like a water or electric company must take any customer unless they have a history of unpaid bills or the like. They don't have to lay new pipes or run new wires to bring service to you if it is at a location not previously served, however.

In the Maryland code, § 7-307 ( Termination of service to low income customers) provides:

(1) Subject to paragraph (2) of this subsection, the Commission shall adopt regulations concerning the prohibition against or limitation of authority of a public service company to terminate service for gas or electricity to a low income residential customer during the heating season for nonpayment.

(2) In adopting the regulations required under paragraph (1) of this subsection, the Commission shall consider and may include provisions relating to:

(i) the circumstances under which service may and may not be limited or terminated;

(ii) the minimum heating levels required to maintain life, health, and safety;

(iii) the medical, age, disabling, or other individual characteristics that are relevant to a prohibition against or limitation on the termination of service;

(and other provisions)

That the Public Service Commission is empowered, and indeed obliged, to issue binding regulations on when service may be terminated might imply a duty to provide service in the first place, but that is not as clear as I would like. I know that in practice a utility runs a credit check and may demand a deposit if the results are not satisfactory, but I do not see a law compelling that behavior. It may be in regulations adopted by the commission.

  • Is there any way to prove that? Like somewhere where it is written Feb 13, 2021 at 20:26
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    @!Ryan I am looking though the laws of my home state even now. I find laws regulating when service can be terminated, but not who must be accepted initially. But even if I find it what won't cover some other state. Feb 13, 2021 at 20:30
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    @RyanParikh: Probably best the way to determine your rights is to contact your state public utilities commission (PUC). I'd only go seeking out the laws if the PUC refused to help you (i.e., in the hopes that you could find a law which required them to help). Wikipedia has a list of PUCs, though it might be incomplete or inaccurate. Most PUC websites have an "I want to file a complaint" page which provides instructions on how to file a complaint (and whether such a complaint will be valid).
    – Brian
    Feb 15, 2021 at 0:41

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