2004 Florida Statutes
Medically essential electric public utility service.
(1) As used in this section, the term "medically essential" means the medical dependence on electric-powered equipment that must be operated continuously or as circumstances require as specified by a physician to avoid the loss of life or immediate hospitalization of the customer or another permanent resident at the residential service address.
(2) Each public utility shall designate employees who are authorized to direct an ordered continuation or restoration of medically essential electric service. A public utility shall not impose upon any customer any additional deposit to continue or restore medically essential electric service.
(3)(a) Each public utility shall annually provide a written explanation of the certification process for medically essential electric service to each utility customer. Certification of a customer's electricity needs as medically essential requires the customer to complete forms supplied by the public utility and to submit a form completed by a physician licensed in this state pursuant to chapter 458 or chapter 459 which states in medical and nonmedical terms why the electric service is medically essential. False certification of medically essential service by a physician is a violation of s. 458.331(1)(h) or s. 459.015(1)(i).
(b) Medically essential service shall be recertified once every 12 months. The public utility shall send the certified customer by regular mail a package of recertification materials, including recertification forms, at least 30 days prior to the expiration of the customer's certification. The materials shall advise the certified customer that he or she must complete and submit the recertification forms within 30 days after the expiration of customer's existing certification. If the recertification forms are not received within this 30-day period, the public utility may terminate the customer's certification.
(4) Each public utility shall certify a customer's electric service as medically essential if the customer completes the requirements of subsection (3).
(5) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, a public utility may disconnect service to a residence whenever an emergency may threaten the health or safety of a person, the surrounding area, or the public utility's distribution system. The public utility shall act promptly to restore service as soon as feasible.
(6) No later than 24 hours before any scheduled disconnection of service for nonpayment of bills to a customer who requires medically essential service, a public utility shall attempt to contact the customer by telephone in order to provide notice of the scheduled disconnection. If the customer does not have a telephone number listed on the account or if the public utility cannot reach the customer or other adult resident of the premises by telephone by the specified time, the public utility shall send a representative to the customer's residence to attempt to contact the customer, no later than 4 p.m. of the day before scheduled disconnection. If contact is not made, however, the public utility may leave written notification at the residence advising the customer of the scheduled disconnection. Thereafter, the public utility may disconnect service on the specified date.
(7) Each public utility customer who requires medically essential service is responsible for making satisfactory arrangements with the public utility to ensure payment for such service, and such arrangements must be consistent with the requirements of the utility's tariff.
(8) Each public utility customer who requires medically essential service is solely responsible for any backup equipment or power supply and a planned course of action in the event of a power outage or interruption of service.
(9) Each public utility that provides electric service to any customer who requires medically essential service shall call, contact, or otherwise advise such customer of scheduled service interruptions.
(10)(a) Each public utility shall provide information on sources of state or local agency funding which may provide financial assistance to the public utility's customers who require medically essential service and who notify the public utility of their need for financial assistance.
(b)1. Each public utility that operates a program to receive voluntary financial contributions from the public utility's customers to provide assistance to persons who are unable to pay for the public utility's services shall maintain a list of all agencies to which the public utility distributes such funds for such purposes and shall make the list available to any such person who requests the list.
2. Each public utility that operates such a program shall:
a. Maintain a system of accounting for the specific amounts distributed to each such agency, and the public utility and such agencies shall maintain a system of accounting for the specific amounts distributed to persons under such respective programs.
b. Train its customer service representatives to assist any person who possesses a medically essential certification as provided in this section in identifying such agencies and programs.
(11) Nothing in this act shall form the basis for any cause of action against a public utility. Failure to comply with any obligation created by this act does not constitute evidence of negligence on the part of the public utility.
History.--ss. 1, 2, ch. 2001-49.