Why do you have to pay a security deposit for gas and electric utilities after filing bankruptcy?

Remember that you can get help from your utility bills after filing a bankruptcy case. If you are behind on your gas and electric bills, then the utility company in question will issue you a new account with a $0 balance. Unfortunately though, a lot of folks who file bankruptcy are up to date with their utilities. In Pennsylvania, the gas and electric companies are entitled to charge bankruptcy filers a security deposit equal to two months of their average past usage (not their average bill, by the way). So, if you’ve been averaging $120 per month on your electric bill, then your security deposit with be $240. You will likely have to pay that amount within 15-45 days after filing your bankruptcy case. Duquesne Light is currently the utility company that most prominently monitors Bankruptcy Court filings. They track the case filings each day and send out the security deposit letters to consumers a few weeks thereafter.

I tell clients not to take it personally. Many of them have never carried a balance on their Duquesne Light bill. Nevertheless, they have to pay the security deposit, and moreover, they will get the money back a year later, as long as their bill is current at that time.

Note that the security deposit rule does not govern water, sewage, phone or cable bills.

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