PSC Issues “Theft of Energy” Regs, Locals Granted Access

New regulations issued by the Maryland Public Service Commission provide local governments access to service termination information. 

The regulations stem from a fatal incident last year in Somerset County that officials believe may have prevented if these new procedures had been in place.

Delmarva Now reports:

Effective Monday, Aug. 15, utility providers must contact an occupant in person or by posted notice at the premise upon the termination of alleged meter tampering or hazardous conditions at the structure, according to the Maryland Public Service Commission. Before the measure, a utility company operating in Maryland by law could terminate service without notice under those circumstances, and contact with the structure’s occupant was not mandatory.

Along with the required on-site termination notice, a utility must inform occupants of a dwelling about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generators, as well as about energy assistance and information about procedures to restore utility service.

The new, so-called theft-of-energy regulations apply to service terminations that are not due to nonpayment of a utility bill. They take effect after an outcry from state, local and neighborhood leaders who say the fatal outcome perhaps could have been prevented with a notification system that flags authorities.

Regulation revisions also require utility companies to notify the PSC within 24 hours of a service shut-off if the termination is due to alleged theft or meter tampering, or other unauthorized use of electricity or gas service. The PSC would in turn add the address of the service termination to an electronic database for use by local governments to extend assistance to a structure’s occupants.

The database launches in the weeks to come, and utilities have until Jan. 1, 2017 to establish a local notification system with local governments in their service region, PSC spokeswoman Tori Leonard said Tuesday.

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