The justification offered by the sponsor of this legislation is to prevent the "unexpected termination of heat services" in a period of cold weather in order to protect the health and well being of the elderly, infirm or others.
While well intentioned, this legislation disregards existing restrictions contained within the Public Service Law setting forth special procedures that utilities must comply with during cold weather periods. Section 23 of the Public Service Law requires utilities to make diligent efforts to contact by telephone or in person the customer at least seventy-two hours prior to termination, make a personal visit at the time of termination, and provide the customer with information regarding protections provided by the Public Service Law. Further, the commission requires the utilities to continue service if termination would result in a serious impairment to health or safety.
Additionally, the proposed legislation is inconsistent with existing law which precludes terminations for nonpayment other than between the hours of eight a.m. and four p.m. Monday through Thursday provided that such day or the following day is not a public holiday as defined in the general construction law.
The Business Council believes the provisions of this bill duplicate existing PSC requirements, and therefore are unnecessary to protect consumer rights or the public welfare. Accordingly, we oppose this bill and recommend that it be held in committee.