State regulators fined Puget Sound Energy (PSE) $430,000 for improperly charging residential disconnect-visit fees to electricity and natural gas customers.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) approved a multi-party settlement agreement that alleged 1,639 violations of the state’s consumer protection rules.

In addition to the penalty, the utility has now refunded to customers more than 9,000 disconnect-visit fees charged in error dating back to December 2009. PSE also agreed to change its procedures for handling such visits.

The company is not allowed to pass any penalty costs to customers through rates. The penalty will be deposited into the public service revolving fund. All disbursements from the fund are made by the Legislature.

The violations arose from an investigation of PSE’s records that covered March to May 2011.

A copy of the penalty complaint may be found at this link on the Internet.