AARP opposes remote power shutoff proposal Delmarva Power wants abilityto use smart meters to do the job

Written by
Aaron Nathans
The News Journal

The Delaware chapter of the AARP is opposing a request by Delmarva Power to scrap a requirement for personal contact with a customer before shutting off that person’s electricity for failure to pay.

Delmarva now must make a reasonable effort to reach a customer in person to inform them that a shutoff is imminent. Under a request to the Public Service Commission, that requirement would be reduced to one phone call.

“We think it’s a bad idea,” said Brian Posey, associate state director with AARP.

There are many Delawareans older than 65 who could have a health condition, and shutting off their power could harm their health and safety, he said. Making contact in person can help get the issue resolved, he said.

Posey said the group would submit its objections in writing to the PSC. Delmarva has been negotiating with PSC staff, who have voiced their own concerns about the one-phone-call proposal.

Delmarva wants the right to disconnect customers remotely, using newly installed smart meters.

The power company wants to replace the personal-contact requirement with a mandate that it make one attempt to reach the resident by telephone before it can disconnect using the remote capabilities of the smart meter.

Delmarva still would need to make a site visit to natural-gas customers prior to a shutoff, according to a PSC staff memo.

The changes would require the proposed rules to be published and to allow for formal public comment before the commissioners will vote, Hartigan said.

Contact Aaron Nathans at 324-2786 or anathans@delawareonline.com.

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