Step 1 - Section 9.1: Good faith negotiation
- If you believe that your electric company has violated a tariff provision, rule, or regulation, you may notify your electric company that you are initiating Section 9.1 of the dispute resolution process. The request must be in writing. The dispute must be elevated to a Vice President or senior manager with enough authority to make a decision.
- If the dispute is not resolved after 8 days of discussions, you may request dispute resolution help from the DPU's Ombudsperson. To request help from the Ombudsperson, fill out the dispute resolution online form. In the form you must include:
- the rule, regulation or tariff provision you believe your electric company violated;
- a concise and comprehensive recitation of the facts of your dispute;
- a clear statement of the remedy you are seeking.
- After you go through all the steps mentioned above, the Ombudsperson will start the dispute resolution process. Your electric company will have 10 business days to respond in writing to the dispute resolution request. D.P.U. 11-75-E. After receiving the response or 10 business days, the Ombudsperson will review all materials and reach out on next steps. Examples of next steps may be more written information or a conference call.
- Once the Ombudsperson has enough information, she will issue a proposed resolution.
- If after 8 days from receiving the Ombudperson’s proposed resolution your dispute is not resolved, you may choose to proceed to Step 2.
You must elevate your dispute to a Vice President or senior manager from your electric company before you can request dispute resolution help from the DPU's Ombudsperson.
Step 2 - Section 9.2: Mediation/non-binding arbitration
- If the dispute is not resolved in Step 1, you may proceed to mediation. The DPU has a list of qualified mediation neutrals, but you can use any neutral.
- You will split the mediation fees 50/50 with your electric company.
- If you cannot resolve the dispute through mediation, you may proceed to Step 3.
Step 3 - Section 9.3: DPU adjudicatory hearing
- If the dispute is not resolved in Step 1 or Step 2, you may request an adjudicatory hearing before the DPU. You must send your request in writing to the Ombudsperson.
- The DPU will then hold a prehearing conference to:
- determine appropriate exchange of information, and
- establish a procedural schedule.
- The outcome from the hearing will be a binding precedential decision from the DPU’s Commission. The Commission's decision will be appealable to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
Ombudsperson and DPU authority
- The DPU has the authority to enforce its rules and regulations, including tariffs. G.L. c. 164, § 76; Cambridge Electric Light Company v. Department of Public Utilities, 363 Mass. 474, 494-495 (1973). The DPU cannot address remedies for alleged wrongdoing outside of the DPU’s authority.
- The Ombudsperson will not recommend in her proposed resolution a remedy of monetary damages unless a DPU rule or regulation prescribes monetary damage as a remedy.
- The dispute resolution process is for project specific disputes. The dispute resolution process is not a forum to challenge an existing policy, rule, regulation, or tariff provision.
- Affected system operator studies are required to ensure the safety and reliability of the electric power system. The Ombudsperson cannot determine whether an affected system operator study is or is not necessary for a certain DG facility.