The number of customers served by utilities can range from a few dozen in a small community to millions of homes and businesses across multiple states. There are ways to pinpoint which utility company provides service to a home without trespassing the property. Local governments and utility companies can provide some general guidelines, and you can use public records to narrow your search. It is also important to keep in mind that some homes on the electrical grid might use a different source for heat, such as natural gas, wood pellets or heating oil.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Internet access
- Access to local municipal government office
Visit the local municipal building/city hall and inquire about what utility companies do business in the area. The list would include gas, electricity and water. There is usually only one electricity provider in a community, and in many areas the company is owned by the city, town or village.
Ask for a property's assessment records, which would note any amenities in the house like a fireplace or wood-pellet stove, or if the home uses a heating oil system. Those records might also note whether the home is attached to a natural gas line. Property records also would indicate whether the home is connected to water and sewer services, or if it relies on a well and septic system.
Visit your state's Public Service Commission website and see if it has utility maps by regions, counties or communities.The PSC, as a taxpayer-funded agency, is subject to Freedom of Information laws. Information requests can usually be submitted through the website. PSC representatives might not be allowed to provide information on someone else's annual utility costs, but they might tell you which company services a certain address. The New York Public Service Commission website (dps.state.ny.us), for example, has telephone numbers of every electricity provider that does business in the state, even if the company is headquartered somewhere else.
Seeking the power source
Tips and warnings
- It is also worth your time to call home heating oil delivery companies and ask if they have existing deliveries on certain streets or at certain addresses.
- Fire marshals and code enforcement officers are required to periodically inspect businesses and apartments, as well as monitor new construction, which would include houses. Their reports are public record and might include information about electrical hookups and utilities.
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