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This entry was published on 2021-05-14
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SECTION 32
Termination of service
Public Service (PBS) CHAPTER 48, ARTICLE 2
§ 32. Termination of service. 1. Generally. Any termination of
residential utility service by utility corporations or municipalities
shall be in accordance with all relevant provisions of this article.

2. Utility service may be terminated, except as otherwise provided in
this section, if any person supplied with electric or gas service to a
residence:

(a) fails to pay charges for any service rendered during the preceding
twelve months, provided however that the commission by regulations may
permit the termination of service for bills due for service rendered
during periods in excess of twelve months where (i) there was a dispute
between such person and the utility corporation or municipality
concerning the bill during the twelve month period, (ii) delays in
termination are not the fault of the utility or were due to the culpable
conduct of such person, or (iii) such bills are necessary to adjust
estimated bills; or

(b) fails to pay amounts due under a deferred payment plan; or

(c) fails to pay or agree in writing to pay equipment and installation
charges relating to initiation of service; and

(d) is sent a final notice of termination no less than fifteen days
before the termination date shown on the notice. Any such notice shall,
at a minimum, clearly state the reason for termination of service; how
termination may be avoided; that the utility corporation or municipality
has available procedures for handling complaints; a summary of the
protections available under this article; that any customer eligible for
such protections should contact the utility corporation or municipality;
and such other provisions as the commission may require. A utility
corporation or municipality may not issue a final notice of termination
unless at least twenty days have elapsed from the date payment was due.
The commission may increase the number of days before which a final
notice of termination may be sent.

3. The commission shall safeguard from termination, or require
restoration of service to, those residents who will suffer serious
impairments to health or safety as a result of such termination or
failure to restore services. The regulations shall include, but not be
limited to:

(a) Medical emergencies. The commission shall require the continuation
or restoration of utility service to a customer's residence where a
medical emergency exists. The commission shall provide for written
certification by a medical doctor, nurse practitioner or local board of
health that termination of service or failure to restore service will
aggravate an existing medical emergency at a customer's residence,
provided that the commission may authorize an initial certification by
telephone if written certification is provided within five business
days. The commission shall provide for the duration, form, content and
renewal of written certificates. With respect to the renewal of written
certificates, the commission may require the customer to demonstrate an
inability to pay charges for service. The commission shall, in
consultation with the departments of health and social services and the
office for the aging, establish criteria to be used by a medical doctor,
nurse practitioner or local board of health in making a determination
that a medical emergency exists or that the absence of service will
aggravate an existing medical emergency.

(b) Customers who are elderly, blind, or disabled. The commission
shall provide special procedures to be followed by a utility or
municipality with respect to the termination or restoration of service
to a residence where the customer is known to or identified to the
utility to be blind, disabled, or sixty-two years of age or older;
provided that all the remaining residents of the household are sixty-two
years of age or older, eighteen years of age or under, or blind or
disabled. The commission shall afford reasonable protections to elderly,
blind or disabled customers, including a requirement that the utility
corporation or municipality make a diligent effort to contact by
telephone or in person an adult resident at the customer's premises at
least seventy-two hours prior to termination of service. The commission
shall also establish reasonable procedures for identifying customers
eligible for the protections of this section.

(c) Special procedures for cold weather periods. (i) The commission
shall establish procedures to be followed by a utility or municipality
supplying heat related service in cold weather periods. Such procedures
shall be designed to identify and assist, prior to termination of
service, those residents who may suffer serious impairment to health or
safety as a result of any such termination. The commission shall
establish the applicable cold weather periods; specify criteria for
identifying residents who are likely to suffer serious impairments, and
require that such service not be terminated unless a representative of
the utility or municipality makes a diligent effort to contact by
telephone or in person an adult resident of the customer's premises at
least seventy-two hours prior to termination, makes a personal visit at
the time of termination and provides the customer with information
regarding the protections available under this article. The commission
shall provide for the manner in which such contacts and personal visits
are made. (ii) The commission shall also require a utility or
municipality supplying service to continue service to customers where a
serious impairment to health or safety is likely to result from
termination of service and the person supplied is unable because of
mental or physical problems to manage his or her own resources or to
protect himself or herself from neglect or hazardous situations without
the assistance of others. Doubts shall be resolved in favor of continued
service. Continuations of service shall be for a period of time to be
established by the commission. The commission shall consult with the
department of social services and the state office for the aging in
implementing the provisions of this paragraph.

4. The commission shall preclude 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.

5. (a) In the event the service to a residential customer terminated
pursuant to this section or the service to a multiple-family dwelling
pursuant to section thirty-three of this article or a two-family
dwelling pursuant to section thirty-four of this article consists of the
provision of gas or electricity commodity only, the utility providing
distribution services to such customer shall suspend the provision of
such distribution services and the provision of any other related
services to such customer if:

(i) The utility providing distribution services to such customer is
notified of the termination in such manner and form as the commission
shall, by regulation, prescribe; which notification shall include
documentation sufficient to confirm that such termination was, in all
respects, in compliance with this article and that the conditions set
forth in this subdivision have been met;

(ii) Except in the case of a service to a multiple dwelling pursuant
to section thirty-three of this article, such customer was billed using
a billing system in which all charges for service were present on a
single bill;

(iii) Such utility providing distribution services provided such
services to the customer at the time of the termination;

(iv) The utility implementing the termination confirms that it is able
to and will take all actions within its control necessary to resume the
provision of electric or gas commodity to such customer in accordance
with the agreement for such service between such utility and such
customer, if the customer makes full payment of the amount of arrears
that were the basis for the termination of service;

(v) The utility implementing the termination has not assigned its
right to obtain payment of the arrears to an entity that is not a
utility for purposes of this article; and

(vi) Less than one year has elapsed since such termination of
commodity service has occurred.

(b) All notices provided pursuant to this article in connection with
such termination shall include notice of the suspension of services
that, pursuant to this subdivision, can occur coincidental with such
termination and shall state the amount which must be paid to the utility
making the termination in order to obtain the resumption of service from
such terminating utility and, if different, the amount which must be
paid to the utility making the termination to end such suspension of
services.

(c) The utility shall make its best efforts to institute such
suspension of distribution service promptly and shall receive reasonable
compensation from the terminating utility, as determined by the
commission, for any costs associated with such suspension of
distribution services. Any payments for arrears made by a customer after
the termination of service shall be allocated equitably on a pro rata
basis between the terminating utility and the utility that provided
distribution services, to the extent arrears are owed to both such
utilities.

(d) Such suspension shall end upon the occurrence of any of the
conditions identified in paragraphs (a) through (e) of subdivision one
of section thirty-five of this article, upon the expiration of one year
after such termination of commodity service, or upon the receipt of
payments by or on behalf of the customer to the terminating utility such
that the amount paid by such customer to the terminating utility plus
the amount previously paid the terminating utility plus any other
charges paid to the utility providing distribution service during the
period when such customer's arrears accrued is equal to or greater than
the amount such customer would have paid if the entire utility service
had been obtained from the utility providing distribution services
during such period.

* 6. No utility corporation or municipality shall terminate or
disconnect services to any residential customer or a small business
customer with twenty-five or fewer employees that is not a (a) publicly
held company, or a subsidiary thereof, (b) seasonal, short-term, or
temporary customer, (c) high energy customer as defined by the
commission, or (d) customer that the utility can demonstrate has the
resources to pay the bill, provided that the utility notifies the small
business customer of its reasons and of the customer's right to contest
this determination through the commission's complaint procedures, for
the non-payment of an overdue charge for the duration of the state
disaster emergency declared pursuant to executive order two hundred two
of two thousand twenty (hereinafter "the COVID-19 state of emergency").

Utility corporations and municipalities shall have a duty to restore
service, to the extent not already required under this chapter, to any
residential or small business customer within forty-eight hours if such
service has been terminated during the pendency of the COVID-19 state of
emergency.

* NB Effective until July 1, 2022

* 6. Implementation of the provisions of this section shall not limit
the contractual remedies for damages which might be available to the
terminating utility provided that an award of such damages is not
inconsistent with any of the provisions of this article.

* NB Effective July 1, 2022

* 7. For a period of one hundred eighty days after either the COVID-19
state of emergency is lifted or expires or December thirty-first, two
thousand twenty-one, whichever is earlier, no utility corporation or
municipality shall terminate or disconnect the service of a residential
or small business customer because of defaulted deferred payment
agreements or arrears owed to the utility corporation or municipality
when such customer has experienced a change in financial circumstances
due to the COVID-19 state of emergency, as defined by the department.
The utility corporation or municipality shall provide such residential
or small business customer with the right to enter into, or restructure,
a deferred payment agreement without the requirement of a down payment,
late fees, or penalties, as such is provided for in this article with
such prohibition on down payments, late fees, or penalties applicable to
all arrears incurred during the duration of the COVID-19 state of
emergency.

* NB Repealed July 1, 2022

* 8. Every utility corporation or municipality shall provide notice to
residential and small business customers, in a writing to be included
with a bill statement or, when appropriate, via electronic transmission
the provisions of this section and shall further make reasonable efforts
to contact customers who have demonstrated a change in financial
circumstances due to the COVID-19 state of emergency for the purpose of
offering such customers a deferred payment agreement consistent with the
provisions of this article.

* NB Repealed July 1, 2022

* 9. Implementation of the provisions of this section shall not
prohibit a utility or municipality from recovering lost or deferred
revenues after either the lifting or expiration of the COVID-19 state of
emergency or December thirty-first, two thousand twenty-one, whichever
is earlier, pursuant to such means for recovery as are provided for in
this chapter, and by means not inconsistent with any of the provisions
of this article. Nothing in this section shall prohibit a utility
corporation or municipality from disconnecting service necessary to
protect the health and safety of customers and the public.

* NB Repealed July 1, 2022

* 10. Implementation of the provisions of this section shall not limit
the contractual remedies for damages which might be available to the
terminating utility provided that an award of such damages is not
inconsistent with any of the provisions of this article.

* NB Repealed July 1, 2022