Life Threatening Situation

A life-threatening situation is defined as one where the consumer or other permanent resident of the household is dependent upon equipment that is prescribed by a doctor, operated on electricity or gas and is necessary to sustain the person's life. Examples of life-sustaining equipment would be kidney dialysis machines, oxygen concentrators, cardiac monitors, and in some cases heating and air conditioning when prescribed by a licensed medical doctor. If battery back-up for the life-sustaining equipment is normally available, then it is not considered a life-threatening situation. Corporation Commission rules specifically list some items that are not considered life-sustaining equipment. They include stoves, hot water heaters, refrigerators, nebulizers that are battery or hand driven or "self-contained," battery driven sleep apnea monitors or battery driven cardiac monitors.

An electric utility must suspend disconnection of service or reconnect service if the customer notifies the utility that disconnection of service will cause a life-threatening situation for the customer or other permanent resident of the household. The customer must obtain medical verification of the life-threatening condition and provide this to the utility (on a form required by the utility) within 30 days from the customer's notification to the utility that the life-threatening situation exists.

This provision does not require electric or gas companies to maintain utility service indefinitely to a customer who does not pay the bill, even though a life-threatening situation may exist. The utility is only required to extend such service for 30 days from the notification of the life-threatening situation. If payment or payment agreement is not made by then, cutoff can occur. A customer can apply for one additional 30-day grace period before the first 30 days has ended.

The life-threatening situation provision does not relieve a customer of the obligation to pay the electric or gas bill in full or make arrangements for time payments.

Any false information a customer provides in order to prevent service disconnection under this provision is grounds for disconnection.
[Oklahoma Corporation Commission Rule 165:35-21-10 (f) and 165:45-11-14 (f)]

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