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Old January 26th, 2009, 04:55 PM
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Default Utility Company kills another citizen for overdue bill

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28858971/

Sadly we had a similar incident in our province last winter when an elderly man died as a result of his power being disconnected. It prompted a huge review and changes to the disconnection policies, but it's still not enough.

I'm interested in your thoughts not out a sense of morbidity but from the perspective of what do you think should be done in the winter with people who don't pay their power bills?
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Old January 26th, 2009, 05:21 PM
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Throw them in prison. Three squares and no utility bills.
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Old January 26th, 2009, 07:22 PM
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In some areas , power is not disconnected if the temperature drops
below a given value.
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Old January 26th, 2009, 09:20 PM
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That's one of those things that is so hard...

How horrible to die alone, to freeze to death, without family or friends around. If I can be there and they are on their way out, I won't even let my elderly patients die alone. If no one else can come I have sat and held their hand until they went.

He owed the company over $1000...why wasn't he paying his bills? Maybe he didn't have the means to, or had forgotten to. We all know that we can't just go and not pay our bills without consequences...

If he was alone he might have also suffered from Alzheimer's or dementia... I know I'm speculating but the man was 93 and I have worked with geriatrics for 8 years now.

I wonder if social services had ever been involved with him?

Makes me sad to think how our some of our elderly suffer sometimes...
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Old January 26th, 2009, 09:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cutiecat
That's one of those things that is so hard...

How horrible to die alone, to freeze to death, without family or friends around. If I can be there and they are on their way out, I won't even let my elderly patients die alone. If no one else can come I have set and held their hand until they went.

He owed the company over $1000...why wasn't he paying his bills? Maybe he didn't have the means to, or had forgotten to. We all know that we can't just go and not pay our bills without consequences...

If he was alone he might have also suffered from Alzheimer's or dementia... I know I'm speculating but the man was 93 and I have worked with geriatrics for 8 years now.

I wonder if social services had ever been involved with him?

Makes me sad to think how our some of our elderly suffer sometimes...
I wondered many of the same things, such as did they talk to him on the phone or when they put the limiter in place. One of the news articles said that the saddest part is that the last few days before this incident they even brought all the homeless in off the street citing the fact that it was too cold to be exposed to the elements.

My grandfather is 84 and has alzheimers, sadly there are times he thinks he lives on a navy vessel, he'd be the type that had the money to pay the bill but didn't realize there'd be a bill.

Sad, really sad.
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Old January 26th, 2009, 11:03 PM
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Mark may be more right than he knows. I'm sure there are a lot of elderly people who would rather be in prison with 3 squares a day, free heat, a.c , free medical and dental, etc. than trying to eke out an existence on a measley few hundred dollars a month pension. I'm just as sure that there are a lot of thugs in prison who would like to be out--so make a trade.

I think it's terrible that someone reaches that age and freeezes to death in their own home. You can't blame the utility company for not providing free heat--if they do it for one, they would have to do it for all but still, for an elderly ( or anyone ) person to freeze to death should raise some flags somewhere.
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Old January 27th, 2009, 06:44 AM
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What a sad story. I remember in NH that power would not be turned off for non payment between November and April.

Laura
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Old January 27th, 2009, 06:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cutiecat
That's one of those things that is so hard...

How horrible to die alone, to freeze to death, without family or friends around. If I can be there and they are on their way out, I won't even let my elderly patients die alone. If no one else can come I have sat and held their hand until they went.

He owed the company over $1000...why wasn't he paying his bills? Maybe he didn't have the means to, or had forgotten to. We all know that we can't just go and not pay our bills without consequences...

If he was alone he might have also suffered from Alzheimer's or dementia... I know I'm speculating but the man was 93 and I have worked with geriatrics for 8 years now.

I wonder if social services had ever been involved with him?

Makes me sad to think how our some of our elderly suffer sometimes...
The sad thing is that he apparently did have the money to pay. According to what I read he had money paper clipped to all of the overdue bills. I attribute this death to starboard side policies that favor the corporate over the welfare of the public. In many places there are laws in place that prohibit utilities from turning off service during the winter. I remember many starboard leaning legislators fighting like wild animals against such laws.

Shame on them!
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Old January 27th, 2009, 08:02 AM
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The electric utility my husband works for also has temperature confines which they can not shut the power off - it basically is just about any day from Oct thru May - unless we seem to have a nice April.

It is a sad story, for sure.
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Old January 28th, 2009, 08:07 AM
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I didn't know about the money clipped to the bills when I posted the first time.

It is sad...we'll never know the whole story.
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Old January 28th, 2009, 09:46 AM
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Wow I have never heard about this before. Because the places in California that I have lived, it's a big deal if the tempature gets into the 20s. I never thought about having no heat in a below zero temps. That is just so sad. I'm not sure there is a perfect solution for this. I agree those laws should exist to protect the people. I just don't understand why this man didn't pay this bill. If the power company had sent someone to his house prior to cutting the power. The company would have been paid and the man would be alive.
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Old February 1st, 2009, 12:20 PM
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there is no excuse... the sad part is they believe they have done nothing wrong and have the nerve to try and shift the blame to Neighbors.

toss em in jail!!!
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Old February 1st, 2009, 01:26 PM
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It is so sad to hear when businesses put, "the bottom line" ahead of the safety and welfare of their customers. The electric company should be held accountable for its actions. You would think, that a customer who had paid their electric bills, all of those years, and missed, one or two payments, that something was obviously wrong. The electric company should have called this person or sent a representative to the house to find out what was wrong! Any good business wants to develop a lifelong relationship with their customers and should look into a situation before they leap into a situation that is unsafe for the customer.
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Old February 1st, 2009, 02:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by balabusta
It is so sad to hear when businesses put, "the bottom line" ahead of the safety and welfare of their customers. The electric company should be held accountable for its actions. You would think, that a customer who had paid their electric bills, all of those years, and missed, one or two payments, that something was obviously wrong. The electric company should have called this person or sent a representative to the house to find out what was wrong! Any good business wants to develop a lifelong relationship with their customers and should look into a situation before they leap into a situation that is unsafe for the customer.
One or two paymemts?!?!?! How about $1,000!

How do you know the company did not send representative to the house?

I think the title of this thread reaks of yellow journalism.
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Old February 1st, 2009, 03:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc
Quote:
Originally Posted by balabusta
It is so sad to hear when businesses put, "the bottom line" ahead of the safety and welfare of their customers. The electric company should be held accountable for its actions. You would think, that a customer who had paid their electric bills, all of those years, and missed, one or two payments, that something was obviously wrong. The electric company should have called this person or sent a representative to the house to find out what was wrong! Any good business wants to develop a lifelong relationship with their customers and should look into a situation before they leap into a situation that is unsafe for the customer.
One or two paymemts?!?!?! How about $1,000!

How do you know the company did not send representative to the house?

I think the title of this thread reaks of yellow journalism.
Marc in these temps, $1000 is much less than 2 months for me and most others in homes owners in the north east
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Old February 1st, 2009, 04:38 PM
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1000$ here would represent 2 at most three months of electric in our winter, at most. Many of our homes heat with electric. No one is aloud to turn off heat in the months between Nov 15th and April 15th.
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Old February 1st, 2009, 04:49 PM
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I just found this snippet on Michigan utility cost and turn off:

Quote:
Low-income residents, for example, can avoid losing electricity or heat if they pay at least 7 percent of their estimated annual bill each month from November through March. Seniors participating in the Winter Protection Plan do not have to make specific monthly payments but are encouraged to do so to avoid higher bills the rest of the year.

Isiogu also urged the poor to apply for the state earned income tax credit and a home heating credit.

Higher heating costs will come at a time utilities are shutting off more power or natural gas because of unpaid bills.

The number of electric shutoffs were up 39 percent, to 73,733, through June compared to the same period last year. Natural gas shutoffs were up 7 percent, to 67,406.

The Public Service Commission, which regulates many of Michigan's utilities, launched a Web site on Monday aimed at helping customers cut winter energy bills and find financial aid.
Here is the link to complete story:

http://www.wsbt.com/news/consumer/29890169.html
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Old February 1st, 2009, 05:17 PM
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This all falls under the same umbrella of issues many elderly are facing. Choices betwen medication, bills, food, and healthcare. While many of these folks are on a strict limited fixed income, the costs for everything is increasing at a skyrocketing pace.
We need to have regulations in place set for those on a fixed income and meet specific income guidelines. A system set in place that once the annual income tax is submitted and processed specific data is sent to the various agencies, action councils, and companies to prevent any of these issues to ever come about.
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Old February 1st, 2009, 05:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc
I just found this snippet on Michigan utility cost and turn off:

Quote:
Low-income residents, for example, can avoid losing electricity or heat if they pay at least 7 percent of their estimated annual bill each month from November through March. Seniors participating in the Winter Protection Plan do not have to make specific monthly payments but are encouraged to do so to avoid higher bills the rest of the year.

Isiogu also urged the poor to apply for the state earned income tax credit and a home heating credit.

Higher heating costs will come at a time utilities are shutting off more power or natural gas because of unpaid bills.

The number of electric shutoffs were up 39 percent, to 73,733, through June compared to the same period last year. Natural gas shutoffs were up 7 percent, to 67,406.

The Public Service Commission, which regulates many of Michigan's utilities, launched a Web site on Monday aimed at helping customers cut winter energy bills and find financial aid.
Here is the link to complete story:

http://www.wsbt.com/news/consumer/29890169.html
To me this link does nothing to complete the story at all in my mind. Bottom line is an elderly all alone probabaly with some dementia was left to die alone at home and freeze to death. Did social safety net works fail to kick in, yes they did, hence why one should not turn off heat in winter because they do fail and this can be the out come.
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Old February 1st, 2009, 05:45 PM
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CruiseNoid, you are right; regulations have to be "put in place" so that the elderly, inferm, and those with young children do not suffer if the power is turned off. Everything is going up and those on "fixed incomes" have some hard choices to make but they shouldn't have to choose, in the cold winter, whether or not to heat their homes!
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 01:48 AM
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This story is one of the saddest I've run across in a long time. In a way, maybe no one was fault. Why? Strange as it seems, the answer may lie in the fact that quite possibly the gentleman didn't even know it was that cold in his home.

I'm not unfamiliar with the topic. When I managed a senior citizen apartment complex, I insured that either the tenants checked on one another or I checked on them during periods of extreme heat or cold.

The reason for this is as one ages, one often loses the sensation of being able to know if they are too warm or too chilled. In short, they become desensitized to temperature extremes. It may have nothing to do with paying or not paying a utility bill. It is hard to believe that someone couldn't know if their power was shut off but I assure you, many older folks who were already beginning to suffer hypothermia wouldn't have a clue.

One nice thing about living in in a relatively lightly populated county is that the local government owned utility would never cut off power to an elderly person without insuring there was a viable alternative for the senior.

I strongly urge anyone who has an elderly neighbor to PLEASE take a couple of minutes and check on them...not by telephone but rather personally going over to visit them to insure they are in a properly heated or cooled dwelling for only by entering the dwelling, can you make an informed decision. Any excuse for dropping in will do even if you just come out and say that you are concerned about their well being during harsh weather conditions. Please don't often expect the elderly individual's family to to this. While many of course do, many others often do not live locally or what is both abominable and incomprehensible, not to mention very sad, is that many couldn't care less.

BTW, you'll also feel so good that you took the time to care and even possibly save someone's life.

Todd
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 10:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CruiseNOID
This all falls under the same umbrella of issues many elderly are facing. Choices betwen medication, bills, food, and healthcare. While many of these folks are on a strict limited fixed income, the costs for everything is increasing at a skyrocketing pace.
We need to have regulations in place set for those on a fixed income and meet specific income guidelines. A system set in place that once the annual income tax is submitted and processed specific data is sent to the various agencies, action councils, and companies to prevent any of these issues to ever come about.
I think also young people need to know the importance of saving for retirement. Also understanding that as you get close to retirement your money needs to come out of the stock market and go into more stable investments like bank CDs. I don't retire for at least 15 more years so this stock market dip doesn't affect me. I'm still buying stocks only I'm getting them at a great price. If I had 1 or 2 years to retirement and had my money in the market this dip would mean have a big problem paying for Medication, Food, Healthcare, and Heating.
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc
Quote:
Originally Posted by balabusta
It is so sad to hear when businesses put, "the bottom line" ahead of the safety and welfare of their customers. The electric company should be held accountable for its actions. You would think, that a customer who had paid their electric bills, all of those years, and missed, one or two payments, that something was obviously wrong. The electric company should have called this person or sent a representative to the house to find out what was wrong! Any good business wants to develop a lifelong relationship with their customers and should look into a situation before they leap into a situation that is unsafe for the customer.
One or two paymemts?!?!?! How about $1,000!

How do you know the company did not send representative to the house?

I think the title of this thread reaks of yellow journalism.
BTW Marc, for us in the winter $1000 is only two payments. In January we had a cold snap and my bill was almost $600. This is after thousands of dollars in energy efficiency upgrades, etc. et. It doesn't take long to get to $1000. Sad but true.
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 11:08 AM
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I have to admit that the title of this thread strikes me a lot like Marc. I really don't believe that the electric company is capable of killing anyone. That being said there sure was a breakdown in the system, and this was a tragic event.

I really like what Todd suggested. So many around here are wonderful examples of people reaching out to help other people. The utility companies do have programs to help to avoid these situations, but neighbors helping neighbors is also extremely important.

Phyll
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 11:47 AM
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One could consider the utilities company a neighbor also
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 12:41 PM
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Is it really a neighbor or is it a business?

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Old February 2nd, 2009, 01:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phyllbo
Is it really a neighbor or is it a business?

Phyll
i guess it must be a business… had a neighbor cut this mans power for any reason, the local DA would already have the neighbor in jail. this “Business” has people with 6 figure salaries making these decisions. i mention the salary because with it comes serious responsibility. my opinion is the decision was wrong. by attempting to shift the blame to neighbors, i can only conclude that they have learned nothing. the neighbors, who as i read are the ones who realized the man was absent, had no way of knowing this mans power had been turned off. like others have stated, Our local power company would never cut power in this weather. i am sure this policy is in place for a reason. with any luck the people responsible for this mans death will take the time to figure out what they did was wrong, and a way to see it does not happen again
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 04:28 PM
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I'm reminded of a quote by Tom Cruise in the movie, Collateral:

"I didn't kill him -- the bullet did......"
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 04:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dfhawk60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phyllbo
Is it really a neighbor or is it a business?

Phyll
i guess it must be a business… had a neighbor cut this mans power for any reason, the local DA would already have the neighbor in jail. this “Business” has people with 6 figure salaries making these decisions. i mention the salary because with it comes serious responsibility. my opinion is the decision was wrong. by attempting to shift the blame to neighbors, i can only conclude that they have learned nothing. the neighbors, who as i read are the ones who realized the man was absent, had no way of knowing this mans power had been turned off. like others have stated, Our local power company would never cut power in this weather. i am sure this policy is in place for a reason. with any luck the people responsible for this mans death will take the time to figure out what they did was wrong, and a way to see it does not happen again
The reality is that the facts indicate that this man froze to death. Given that had the power company not shut off his power, he would have had heat in his home making the likelihood of death much less likely.

Like you I think with the 6 figure salaries and the big corporate structures come some degree of social responsibility. I don't think companies should be allowed to turn off electricity in the winter. While I don't know what the solution is for those individuals who just chronically don't pay their bills, I don't think freezing to death in one's home is acceptable either.

While I love the idea of checking on your neighbor and spreading goodwill I don't think that it is the responsibility of the neighbours. I hope the utility company does learn and better policies are implemented so that others don't die like this. We had a similar very sad case in our home province and while the utility did get away with it, it did lead to changes that hopefully will prevent future occurences.
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 04:38 PM
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This is a tough one.. While part of me says that no one should ever be done this way, the more rational side says that it is simply a product. Many people just don't seem to get that. There is no divine right that says they have to give you there product. Whether you pay for it or not. The electric company is simply providing you with a product. If you could'nt afford it you would not simply walk into a store, get clothes and walk out. You would go to jail. One would not simply walk into the grocery store fill up a cart and walk out and say"oh i am hungary but don't have any money". You would go to jail.Just like any other product out there it is not free. It cost money. So I think the power company is perfectly in there right to cut the power when someone dose'nt pay.
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