Bill Follows Death of NJ Woman Who Died Waiting for PSE&G to Restore Service
Following the tragic death of a New Jersey woman who died after PSE&G shut off her power, Senator Gerry Cardinale (R-39) has introduced legislation that would prohibit electric public utilities from discontinuing service in cases where doing so would put lives of seriously-ill consumers at risk.
Sen. Gerry Cardinale’s legislation would prohibit electric public utilities from discontinuing service in cases where doing so would put lives of seriously-ill consumers at risk. (SenateNJ.com)
“It is hard to imagine that a public utility company could be so callous, that they would put someone’s life in jeopardy, just to turn a profit,” Cardinale said. “Linda Daniels’s family pleaded with the electric company to restore her power, while she was gasping for air. My prayers are with her family. We can’t erase their pain, but we can take action to ensure this never happens to another terminally-ill customer again.”
Due to her battle with congestive heart failure, Linda Daniels was heavily dependent on an oxygen tank.
On Thursday, July 5, 2018, Daniels’ power was cut off by PSE&G. Daniels was reportedly unable to breathe and passed away just a few short hours after PSE&G turned off her power.
The NJ Board of Public Utilities currently bars electric companies from shutting off power for customers with life-threatening medical conditions. Unfortunately, Cardinale noted many customers often have difficulty reporting a condition in the first place, or find that when they do try to make the company aware of their medical circumstances, utility representatives are unresponsive to their needs, or flat-out ignore their request for accommodations.
Sen. Cardinale’s legislation, S-2945, would establish a “medical customer” identification system that utility companies would be required to observe in order to ensure critically-ill customers do not have to cope with a sudden loss of service.
S-2945 would also require an electric company, on a semiannual basis, to ask their customers if an individual in the household suffers a serious health condition.
Under the bill, a utility could require the “medical customer” to:
- Provide reasonable proof of an inability to pay a utility bill on or before the bill’s due date.
- Deliver a semi-annual written statement from a medical professional.
- Specify the nature of the medical condition, only if the disclosure is not prohibited by law.
“Public utilities must be held accountable for consumer safety,” Cardinale said. “By requiring an electric company to survey every residence they serve, we can ensure that critically-ill customers do not have to suffer the horrible fate that befell Linda Daniels. No one should have to spend their last moments gasping for air in the dark, because a power company refused to meet their needs. I have no doubt that this legislation will save lives.”
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