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Assembly Panel Approves Danielsen Bill Requiring Sufficient Notification of Disconnection of Public Utilities

TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Joe Danielsen to prohibit public utilities from terminating service for nonpayment unless customer is provided certified letter at least 10 business days prior to scheduled termination date was released by the Assembly Telecommunication Committee Thursday.

Danielsen said the intent of the legislation is to create a statute for termination of service consistent with the rules and regulations of the BPU approved tariffs of public utilities, and current public utility practice. He aims to correct the injustice of people having their utilities shut off without an exact time of when that may occur.

“Laws regulating disconnection of public utilities in New Jersey must be clear and must help protect the elderly, families with children, the disabled, and people with medical conditions,” said Danielsen (D- Middlesex, Somerset).

“Disconnection of public utilities can be a health hazard for our most vulnerable populations. Residents should be ensured notification of disconnection in advance so that they are able to respond and resolve the matter quickly.”

In July, PSE&G terminated power in the home of a Newark resident with a medical condition requiring an electric-powered oxygen tank. Utilities are prohibited from shutting off power to those with medical emergencies; however, the company said it was not aware of any medical conditions. The circumstances surrounding the death are under investigation by the Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU).

This bill amends current law to provide that a public utility is not to terminate a customer’s service for nonpayment unless the public utility provides the customer a certified letter notifying the customer that their service will be terminated for nonpayment on the scheduled termination date.
This act would take effect immediately.

The bill will now go to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.