LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

NJ enacts law to protect medically vulnerable from power shutoffs

On July 5, 2018, 68-year-old Newark resident Linda Daniels’ electricity was shut off. Without power, the oxygen tank she relied on to breathe shut down and Daniels died.

PSE&G, the state’s largest utility, had cut off service to her house when Daniels got behind on her electricity bill.

On the anniversary of her death, Gov. Phil Murphy signed Linda’s Law, legislation named in Daniels’ honor that requires public utilities to find out which of their customers depend on electric-powered medical equipment. Utilities are banned from shutting off service for such customers for 90 days.

“No one should fear losing their life because their electricity bill is a few days overdue,” Murphy said in a statement. “Linda’s Law will protect residents who rely upon electricity to support their medical equipment.”

An independent report commissioned by PSE&G found “both human errors and systemic failures” had led to Daniels’ death. The company has said it made sweeping changes in the aftermath of the incident to protect others with similar medical needs.