PSC reopens Arnold Line water case

By STAFF REPORTS,

Complaints against Arnold Line Water Association in Hattiesburg allegedly continued to pour in after the utility said it would comply with the Public Service Commission’s Final Order on June 17, 2017. So, the Public Service Commission decided at its open meeting Tuesday to reopen the case, citing ongoing customer complaints of quality of service issues.

The commission has received 38 informal complaints since June 2017 alleging Arnold Line is requiring bills or account numbers in order to make payment.

Arnold Line President C.R. Dixon said Tuesday afternoon he was unaware of the commission’s action when he was contacted by The Lamar Times. He received a copy of the news release about reopening the case and declined comment.

In October 2016, the Public Service Commission under direction of Southern District Commissioner Sam Britton originally opened a case regarding Arnold Line citing compliance issues with the association’s Rules and Regulations. After a tumultuous process including an unsuccessful appeal by Arnold Line, the association eventually agreed to comply with the Commission’s order to change its Rules and Regulations to better serve customers.

Subsequently, the Commission said it would diligently monitor operations at Arnold Line to ensure its order was being followed. After continued customer complaints regarding similar issues this year, Britton is taking the next steps in implementing change at Arnold Line Water Association.

The Commission has broad authority to investigate and order hearings into the actions or inactions of public utilities if the Commission suspects a violation has occurred.

In the Commission’s Final Order, Arnold Line was told to delete from its service rules the requirement that a customer must provide a bill or account number in order to make payment. Further, Arnold Line was ordered to remove any signage from any location that stated that a customer must have a bill or account number in order to make payment.

In the coming days, the Commission’s legal staff will begin investigating and order a public hearing in order to determine if violations of the Commission’s Order have occurred and to bring necessary changes at Arnold Line Water Association. All hearings have been referred to Britton to facilitate and will be noticed to the public and to Arnold Line’s members.

“The bottom line is that I want people to be treated fairly,” Britton said. “We have worked with Arnold Line in hopes of coming to an understanding as to how customers should be treated so I’m disappointed to hear that these problems are persisting. However, there are avenues in which we can go down to ensure customers are treated courteously. And I plan on going down every one of them until we see a tangible solution in this case.”

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