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What You Should Know / June 25, 2010

clockwork_orange_03 -- National Grid today is defending its policies on shutting down power to people's homes, after a woman who used oxygen therapy died following a power shutdown at her Salem, N.H., house.Kay Phaneuf, 53, died Thursday at Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, Salem Fire Marshal Jeff Emanuelson said. She had been in critical condition since her husband found her unconscious that morning.Salem Police Captain Shawn Patten said this morning that Phaneuf's husband made the 911 call and police and firefighters arrived at about 10 a.m. Phaneuf did not have a pulse and CPR was immediately performed. After several attempts, she was resuscitated and rushed to the hospital."It's fairly obvious that she needed to be hooked up to a machine to live, and the oxygen device that she required to live was no longer operable because there was no electricity," he said.David Graves, spokesman for the company, said he couldn't comment on the status of the woman's account.But he said the company sends out notices on bills that are a month late that customers need to submit overdue payments. After another month, they send a notice telling customers that they must pay or face shutoff of their power. After another two weeks, they send a notice saying that shutoff is imminent unless payment is made by a certain date.Graves said the state of New Hampshire also requires that a customer, if they have a medical condition that requires electricity in the house, send a letter to the power company every 60 days. That letter ensures that the power won't be shut off in case of non-payment. Graves said National Grid's own policy is the letter only needs to be sent every 90 days. He wouldn't comment on whether a letter had been sent in Phaneuf's case.

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  • 1. Joshua  |  June 25th, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Why didn’t she send the damn letter? I hate it when people don’t return my calls.

  • 2. Alberto  |  June 26th, 2010 at 4:16 am

    I am a worker at a low-income assistance organization, and deal primarily (full time from oct-may) with preventing utility disconnects, mainly with govt funds. Its a real shame that a tragedy such as this had to occur before some critical attention was given to disconnect policies. The conditions which lead to a death such as this arise with frightening frequency. Each state govt sets the disconnect policies that the utilities must adhere to and many (public as well as private) don’t cut anyone any breaks that aren’t required by law. A list of state policies is here: This has been the status quo for a long time. Ask anyone who is in poverty if their lights have ever been cut and you’ll likely get a knowing roll of the eyes and look of of understanding mingled with righteous anger.

  • 3. destruxol  |  June 26th, 2010 at 6:16 am

    Stimmt. Someone should have sent a letter.

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