NEWARK, NJ - Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation on Friday that will require electric public utility companies to verify which residential customers use electrical life-sustaining equipment.
The new law is named after Linda Daniels, a 68-year-old Newark grandmother who died after PSE&G disconnected her electricity and her oxygen tank lost power. Today marks one year since her death.
“No one should fear losing their life because their electricity bill is a few days overdue,” Murphy said in a statement. “Linda’s Law will protect residents who rely upon electricity to support their medical equipment.”
Utilities will be required to request information on a semi-annual basis from customers to document who relies on electricity to power medical equipment. The law will prohibit electric public utilities from discontinuing service for 90 days due to nonpayment for those who are deemed medical customers.
“A year later, a family is still mourning the loss of a 68-year-old mother and grandmother, who had much more life to give her family and community,” Mayor Ras Baraka said. “We must continue to keep them in prayer and have trust that Linda’s death will not be in vain. Out of this tragic loss, ‘Linda’s Law’ will protect and support those that need it the most regardless of their ability to afford it.”
One of the first versions of the bill was sponsored by Democrats including state Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Essex) and state Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex).
“The inability to pay an electric bill should not have deadly consequences, but what happens when power is cut off to someone using life sustaining medical equipment,” said Ruiz in a statement. “This legislation will expand precautions already in place to ensure power companies are not risking anyone’s life when they discontinue services to a customer past due on their bill.”
The state Board of Public Utilities, which monitors utility services and responds to consumer complaints, already considers temperatures before shut off.
"The NJBPU has been working closely with the utilities to implement additional regulations that we hope, along with this legislation, will help prevent future tragedies,” said New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President Joseph L. Fiordaliso. “Our ongoing condolences to her family.”
PSE&G previously told TAPinto Newark it supported the bill. The company has said it has already taken steps to make it easier to know which customers are using life-sustaining equipment.