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Consumer Tip
Medically Essential Service

    Do you, or does someone you know, have a medical condition that requires electrically-powered equipment that must be operated continually to sustain life or avoid serious medical complications?  What would happen if you could not pay your electric bill?

    The electric utilities regulated by the Florida Public Service Commission (Florida Power & Light Co., Florida Public Utilities Company, Duke Energy Florida, Inc., Tampa Electric Co., and Gulf Power Company) have all filed identical tariffs that define how the companies will address the matter of a customer who needs to use  "continuously operating electric-powered medical equipment necessary to sustain the life of or avoid serious medical complications requiring immediate hospitalization of the customer or another permanent resident at the service address” and has not paid his electric bill.
 
 

This is the text of the tariff:
     For purposes of this section, a Medically Essential Service Customer is a residential customer whose electric service is medically essential, as affirmed through the certificate of a doctor of medicine licensed to practice in the State of Florida.  Service is “medically essential” if the customer has continuously operating electric-powered medical equipment necessary to sustain the life of or avoid serious medical complications requiring immediate hospitalization of the customer or another permanent resident at the service address.  The physician’s certificate shall explain briefly and clearly, in non-medical terms, why continuance of electric service is medically essential, and shall be consistent with the requirements of the Company’s tariff.  A customer who is certified as a Medically Essential Service Customer must renew such certification periodically through the procedures outlined above.  The Company may require certification no more frequently than 12 months.

     The Company shall provide Medically Essential Service Customers with a limited extension of time, not to exceed thirty (30) days, beyond the date service would normally be subject to disconnection for nonpayment of bills (following the requisite notice pursuant to Rule 25-6.105 (5) of the Florida Administrative Code).  The Company shall provide the Medically Essential Service Customer with written notice specifying the date of disconnection based on the limited extension.  The Medically Essential Service Customer shall be responsible for making mutually satisfactory arrangements to ensure payment within this additional extension of time for service provided by the Company and for which payment is past due, or to make other arrangements for meeting medically essential needs.

     No later than 12 noon one day prior to the scheduled disconnection of service of a Medically Essential Service Customer, the Company shall attempt to contact such customer by telephone in order to provide notice of the scheduled disconnect date.  If the Medically Essential Service Customer does not have a telephone number listed on the account, or if the utility cannot reach such customer or other adult resident of the premises by telephone by the specified time, a field representative will be sent to the residence to attempt to contact the Medically Essential Service Customer, no later than 4 p.m. of the day prior to scheduled disconnection.  If contact is not made, however, the company may leave written notification at the residence advising the Medically Essential Service Customer of the scheduled disconnect date; thereafter, the Company may disconnect service on the specified date.  The Company will grant special consideration to a Medically Essential Service Customer in the application of Rule 25-6.097(3) of the Florida Administrative Code.

     In the event that a customer is certified as a Medically Essential Service Customer, the customer shall remain solely responsible for any backup equipment and/or power supply and a planned course of action in the event of power outages.  The Company does not assume, and expressly disclaims, any obligation or duty: to monitor the health or condition of the person requiring medically essential service; to insure continuous service;  to call, contact, or otherwise advise of service interruptions; or, accept as expressly provided by this section, to take any other action (or refrain from any action) that differs from the normal operations of the Company.
 

 The major points to remember are:

  • The need for medically essential service must be certified by a doctor of medicine certified to practice in Florida.
  • The company is required to grant an extension of not more than 30 days beyond the date service would normally be disconnected for nonpayment.
  • The company must give written notice of the date that the service is liable for disconnection based upon the 30-day extension.
  • The customer is then responsible for making the payment or making other arangement to meet his medical needs.
  • No later than noon on the day prior to the disconnection date, the company must attempt to contact the customer by telephone to advise them of the impending disconnection.
  • If the company cannot reach an adult member of the household by telephone, it must send a representative to the residence no later than 4 PM on the day before the scheduled disconnection to advise the customer of the impending disconnection.
  • If no one is home, the representative may leave written notification of the disconnection.
  • This plan cannot ensure that the customer will have electric service 100% of the time.  Natural disasters, equipment failures, or other unforeseen events may cause a service interruption.
  • The customer is responsible for any backup equipment and/or power supply in case of an outage.

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Florida Public Service Commission
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Tallahassee, FL 32399-0850
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