State regulators today issued a complaint against Puget Sound Energy alleging the utility improperly charged a residential-visit disconnect fee to electricity and natural gas customers.

Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission staff is alleging PSE committed 1,639 violations of state consumer protection rules. The commission staff also is asking the UTC to require the utility to refund customers charged the $13 fee in error. The alleged violations arose from an investigation that spanned from March to May of this year. UTC staff found PSE was improperly charging a $13 field-visit disconnect fee to customers.

PSE representatives can only charge the fee if they were dispatched to a residence to disconnect electric or natural gas service. Under state rules, PSE may not charge a disconnect-visit fee if the utility visits a customer’s home for a purpose other than to disconnect service, such as leaving a 24-hour termination notice or collecting a payment.

The three-member commission will set a schedule for hearing the complaint. The company has 20 calendar days to file a response. If proven at the hearing, the commission could assess PSE as much as $1,000 for each violation. The company is not allowed to pass any penalty costs to customers through rates.

PSE serves more than 1 million electric customers and about 750,000 natural gas customers.