Bill Text: FL S1370 | 2019 | Regular Session | Introduced

Bill Title: Medically Essential Electric Utility Service

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Failed) 2019-05-03 - Died in Innovation, Industry, and Technology [S1370 Detail]

Download: Florida-2019-S1370-Introduced.html
       Florida Senate - 2019                                    SB 1370
       By Senator Perry
       8-01767A-19                                           20191370__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to medically essential electric
    3         utility service; amending s. 366.11, F.S.; specifying
    4         that certain utilities are not exempt from providing
    5         medically essential electric service; amending s.
    6         366.15, F.S.; revising and defining terms; providing
    7         notification requirements for electric utilities
    8         relating to the certification process for obtaining
    9         medically essential electric service and service
   10         disconnection; providing certification requirements
   11         for customers; specifying duties of electric
   12         utilities; revising penalties for falsification of
   13         such certification; creating s. 456.45, F.S.;
   14         requiring certain health care practitioners to inform
   15         certain patients of such certification process;
   16         requiring such practitioners to provide patients with
   17         completed medical certifications and document the
   18         certification; providing an effective date.
   20  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   22         Section 1. Subsection (1) of section 366.11, Florida
   23  Statutes, is amended to read:
   24         366.11 Certain exemptions.—
   25         (1) No provision of this chapter shall apply in any manner,
   26  other than as specified in ss. 366.04, 366.05(7) and (8),
   27  366.051, 366.055, 366.093, 366.095, 366.14, 366.15, 366.80
   28  366.83, and 366.91, to utilities owned and operated by
   29  municipalities, whether within or without any municipality, or
   30  by cooperatives organized and existing under the Rural Electric
   31  Cooperative Law of the state, or to the sale of electricity,
   32  manufactured gas, or natural gas at wholesale by any public
   33  utility to, and the purchase by, any municipality or cooperative
   34  under and pursuant to any contracts now in effect or which may
   35  be entered into in the future, when such municipality or
   36  cooperative is engaged in the sale and distribution of
   37  electricity or manufactured or natural gas, or to the rates
   38  provided for in such contracts.
   39         Section 2. Section 366.15, Florida Statutes, is amended to
   40  read:
   41         366.15 Medically essential electric public utility
   42  service.—
   43         (1) As used in this section, the term:
   44         (a)“Health care practitioner” means a physician or
   45  physician assistant licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459 or
   46  an advanced registered nurse practitioner licensed under chapter
   47  464.
   48         (b) “Medically essential” means the medical dependence on
   49  electric-powered equipment that must be operated continuously or
   50  as circumstances require as specified by a health care
   51  practitioner physician to avoid the loss of life or immediate
   52  hospitalization of the customer or another permanent resident at
   53  the residential service address.
   54         (2) Each electric public utility shall designate employees
   55  who are authorized to direct an ordered continuation or
   56  restoration of medically essential electric service. An electric
   57  A public utility shall not impose upon any customer any
   58  additional deposit to continue or restore medically essential
   59  electric service.
   60         (3)(a) Each electric public utility shall post on its
   61  website a written explanation of the certification process for
   62  obtaining medically essential electric service. The website must
   63  include the standard certification form adopted by the utility
   64  pursuant to paragraph (b). Each electric utility shall annually
   65  provide a written explanation of the certification process for
   66  medically essential electric service to each residential utility
   67  customer:
   68         1.When the customer opens an account for electric service
   69  with the electric utility; and
   70         2.At least semiannually, either by means of a written bill
   71  insert or, if the customer has provided contact information to
   72  receive electronic communications from the electric utility, by
   73  electronic means.
   74         (b)Each electric utility shall adopt a standard
   75  certification form to be completed and signed by each
   76  residential customer who wishes to have his or her service
   77  certified as medically essential. The certification form must
   78  include the customer’s service address, the customer’s name and
   79  the account number for the service address, the name of the
   80  permanent resident at the service address who is medically
   81  dependent on electric-powered equipment and the name of that
   82  person’s certifying health care practitioner, and the customer’s
   83  contact information for purposes of receiving communications
   84  from the utility by telephone and, if the customer has provided
   85  authorization to receive electronic communications by electronic
   86  means. The certification form shall include a separate section
   87  to be completed and signed by a health care practitioner to
   88  certify that electric service is medically essential for the
   89  customer or other permanent resident at the service address.
   90  This section of the certification form must include the name,
   91  business address, and medical license number of the certifying
   92  health care practitioner; a statement by the certifying health
   93  care practitioner, in medical and nonmedical terms, that
   94  specifies why the electric service is medically essential, as
   95  defined in subsection (1); and a specification of the time
   96  period for which the electric service is expected to remain
   97  medically essential.
   98         (c) Certification that of a customer’s electricity needs
   99  are as medically essential requires the customer to complete
  100  forms supplied by the public utility and to submit to the
  101  utility a completed standard certification form which includes
  102  the health care practitioner’s certification a form completed by
  103  a physician licensed in this state pursuant to chapter 458 or
  104  chapter 459 which states in medical and nonmedical terms why the
  105  electric service is medically essential. The certification may
  106  not extend beyond 60 months. Falsification of the False
  107  certification of medically essential service by a physician is a
  108  violation of s. 458.331(1)(h), or s. 459.015(1)(i), or s.
  109  464.018(1)(f).
  110         (d)(b) Medically essential service must shall be
  111  recertified at the expiration of the time period specified in
  112  the certification or once every 12 months after certification,
  113  whichever is later. The electric public utility shall send the
  114  certified customer by regular mail, or by e-mail if the customer
  115  has provided the utility with his or her e-mail address, a
  116  package of recertification materials, including recertification
  117  forms, at least 60 30 days before prior to the expiration of the
  118  customer’s certification. The materials shall advise the
  119  certified customer that he or she must complete and submit the
  120  recertification forms within 30 days after the expiration of the
  121  customer’s existing certification. If the recertification forms
  122  are not received within this 30-day period, the electric public
  123  utility may terminate the customer’s certification. No more than
  124  once every 12 months during the term of the certification, the
  125  electric utility may request verification from the customer that
  126  the person for whom electric service is certified continues to
  127  reside at the service address.
  128         (4) Each electric public utility must shall certify a
  129  customer’s electric service as medically essential if the
  130  customer completes the requirements of subsection (3).
  131         (5) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, an
  132  electric a public utility may disconnect service to a residence
  133  whenever an emergency may threaten the health or safety of a
  134  person, the surrounding area, or the electric public utility’s
  135  distribution system. The electric public utility shall act
  136  promptly to restore service as soon as feasible.
  137         (6) A customer whose electric service is certified as
  138  medically essential under this section is entitled, at a
  139  minimum, to the same time period for payment of bills that
  140  applies to all other residential customers served by the
  141  electric utility. However, the time period may not be fewer than
  142  20 days after the date the bill is mailed or delivered by the
  143  utility. If payment or a satisfactory payment arrangement has
  144  not been made within the specified time period, the electric
  145  utility may schedule disconnection of service for nonpayment of
  146  the bill. In addition to any other notice provided in the
  147  utility’s normal course of business, before the electric utility
  148  disconnects service, it shall provide the following notice to
  149  each customer whose electric service is certified as medically
  150  essential under this section:
  151         (a) No later than 15 days, and again no later than 7 days,
  152  before a scheduled disconnection 24 hours before any scheduled
  153  disconnection of service for nonpayment of bills to a customer
  154  who requires medically essential service, the electric a public
  155  utility shall attempt to contact the customer by telephone in
  156  order to provide notice of the scheduled disconnection and shall
  157  provide the notice in writing, including by electronic means if
  158  the customer has provided contact information to receive
  159  electronic communications from the electric utility.
  160         (b) If the customer does not have a telephone number listed
  161  on the account or if the electric public utility cannot reach
  162  the customer or other adult resident of the premises by
  163  telephone by the specified time, the electric public utility
  164  shall send a representative to the customer’s residence to
  165  attempt to contact the customer, no later than 2 business days 4
  166  p.m. of the day before the scheduled disconnection. If contact
  167  is not made, however, the electric public utility must may leave
  168  written notification at the residence advising the customer of
  169  the scheduled disconnection and shall provide such notice by
  170  electronic means if the customer has provided contact
  171  information to receive electronic communications from the
  172  electric utility.
  174  Thereafter, the electric public utility may disconnect service
  175  on the scheduled disconnection specified date if payment to the
  176  electric utility or a satisfactory payment arrangement with the
  177  electric utility has not been made.
  178         (7) Each electric public utility customer who requires
  179  medically essential service is responsible for making
  180  satisfactory arrangements with the electric public utility to
  181  ensure payment for such service, and such arrangements must be
  182  consistent with the requirements of the utility’s tariff.
  183         (8) Each electric public utility customer who requires
  184  medically essential service is solely responsible for any backup
  185  equipment or power supply and a planned course of action in the
  186  event of a power outage or interruption of service.
  187         (9) Each electric public utility that provides electric
  188  service to any customer whose electric service is certified as
  189  medically essential pursuant to this section who requires
  190  medically essential service shall call, contact, or otherwise
  191  advise such customer of scheduled service interruptions.
  192         (10)(a) Each electric public utility shall provide
  193  information on sources of state or local agency funding which
  194  may provide financial assistance to the public utility’s
  195  customers who require medically essential service and who notify
  196  the public utility of their need for financial assistance.
  197         (b)1. Each electric public utility that operates a program
  198  to receive voluntary financial contributions from the public
  199  utility’s customers to provide assistance to persons who are
  200  unable to pay for the public utility’s services shall maintain a
  201  list of all agencies to which the public utility distributes
  202  such funds for such purposes and shall make the list available
  203  to any such person who requests the list.
  204         2. Each public utility that operates such a program shall:
  205         a. Maintain a system of accounting for the specific amounts
  206  distributed to each such agency, and the public utility and such
  207  agencies shall maintain a system of accounting for the specific
  208  amounts distributed to persons under such respective programs.
  209         b. Train its customer service representatives to assist any
  210  person who possesses a medically essential certification as
  211  provided in this section in identifying such agencies and
  212  programs.
  213         (11) Nothing in this act shall form the basis for any cause
  214  of action against an electric a public utility. Failure to
  215  comply with any obligation created by this act does not
  216  constitute evidence of negligence on the part of the electric
  217  public utility.
  218         Section 3. Section 456.45, Florida Statutes, is created to
  219  read:
  220         456.45Certification of medically essential electric
  221  service.—
  222         (1)As used in this section, the term “health care
  223  practitioner” means a physician or physician assistant licensed
  224  under chapter 458 or chapter 459 or an advanced registered nurse
  225  practitioner licensed under chapter 464.
  226         (2)A health care practitioner who determines that a
  227  patient may be at risk of loss of life or immediate
  228  hospitalization if the patient were to lose electric service at
  229  the patient’s residential service address shall inform the
  230  patient of his or her right to obtain certification under the
  231  medically essential electric service program provided by the
  232  patient’s electric utility pursuant to s. 366.15, and provide
  233  the patient with a written copy of the law.
  234         (3)Upon the request of such a patient, the health care
  235  practitioner must provide the patient with a completed medical
  236  certification using the standard certification form adopted by
  237  the patient’s electric utility and made available on the
  238  utility’s website pursuant to s. 366.15(3) and must document the
  239  certification in the patient’s medical record.
  240         Section 4. This act shall take effect January 1, 2020.