British energy company National Grid has promised not to kill again after the company shut off the power to a New Hampshire woman who needed oxygen to breathe, causing her death on June 24th (see our original story). The company had acted over an unpaid bill even though the customer was known to be at risk. County prosecutors will decide whether National Grid will face any criminal charges. “It’s really a question of negligence or recklessness,” said a Rockingham County spokesman. “It does not have to be an intentional act by the company.”
It was only after this statement June 30th that British-owned National Grid rushed out an announcement freezing all utility shut-offs for New Hampshire customers with histories of serious medical conditions since 2008, even if state-mandated protections on the accounts have expired. The New Hampshire regulator is thought to have been too lax in its oversight of the Utility companies in the State after industry lobbying led it to relax the rules safeguarding the sick with delinquent accounts.
In New York, National Grid spokesman Jackie Barry said rules are more stringent and state regulators must approve every power disconnect for customers with a history of critical medical issues.
In Massachusetts and Rhode Island, she said, regulations are much more similar to that in New Hampshire, leading to fears that the same tragedy could occur in those States.
Gov. John Lynch called last week for the PUC to conduct a full review of statewide procedures for power disconnects for customers with medical issues.
That report with recommendations will be complete by the end of the month.
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