To ensure all of the necessary steps are taken to protect medically vulnerable residents depending on electric medical devices from electric utility discontinuance, the full Assembly passed legislation Thursday, 74-0-1.
The bill (A-4430/4555), sponsored by Assembly Democrats Yvonne Lopez, Raj Mukherji, Eliana Pintor Marin, Wayne DeAngelo, James Kennedy and Lisa Swain creates a verification system whereby an electric public utility will request from each residential customer information regarding the use of life-sustaining equipment powered by electricity at the customer’s residence.
The measure also prohibits the electric public utility from discontinuing service to a medical customer for 90 days, for utility bill nonpayment if the customer’s medical condition would be aggravated by a discontinuance of electric service.
The sponsors issued the following statement:
“It is clear that more needs to be done to ensure that those depending on electricity for their medical device do not experience a shut-off in their home. We need to ensure that electric public utilities have a comprehensive system to not only track but also meet the needs of their medically dependent customers. We know that BPU regulations consider temperature as well as other factors prior to ordering a shut-off, however the health of our most vulnerable populations must also be made a priority factor in determining a discontinuation of service.”
The measure is in response to the death of Newark resident Linda Daniels who in July of 2018 passed when her electric oxygen machine lost power after her electricity was disconnected. Daniels’ case is still under investigation by the BPU.
The bill will now head to the Governor for further consideration.