Florida Senate - 2018                                    SB 1630
       By Senator Hutson
       7-01153-18                                            20181630__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to medically essential electric
    3         utility service; amending s. 366.15, F.S.; revising
    4         and defining terms; providing notification
    5         requirements for electric utilities relating to the
    6         certification process for obtaining medically
    7         essential electric utility service and service
    8         disconnection; revising certification requirements and
    9         process for customers; specifying time limits for
   10         certifications; revising penalties for falsification
   11         of such certification; revising requirements relating
   12         to billing and customer disconnection for electric
   13         utilities providing such service; creating s. 456.45,
   14         F.S.; defining a term; requiring certain health care
   15         practitioners to inform certain patients of such
   16         certification process; requiring such practitioners to
   17         complete certain medical certifications and document
   18         such certifications; providing an effective date.
   20  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   22         Section 1. Section 366.15, Florida Statutes, is amended to
   23  read:
   24         366.15 Medically essential electric public utility
   25  service.—
   26         (1) As used in this section, the term:
   27         (a)“Health care practitioner” means a physician or
   28  physician assistant licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459 or
   29  an advanced registered nurse practitioner licensed under chapter
   30  464.
   31         (b) “Medically essential” means the medical dependence on
   32  electric-powered equipment that must be operated continuously or
   33  as circumstances require as specified by a health care
   34  practitioner physician to avoid the loss of life or immediate
   35  hospitalization of the customer or another permanent resident at
   36  the residential service address.
   37         (2) Each electric public utility shall designate employees
   38  who are authorized to direct an ordered continuation or
   39  restoration of medically essential electric service. An electric
   40  A public utility may shall not impose upon any customer any
   41  additional deposit to continue or restore medically essential
   42  electric service.
   43         (3)(a) Each electric public utility shall post on its
   44  website a written explanation of the certification process for
   45  obtaining medically essential electric service. The website must
   46  provide standard and medical certification forms developed and
   47  adopted by commission rule.
   48         (b)Each electric utility shall annually provide a written
   49  explanation of the certification process for medically essential
   50  electric service to each residential utility customer:
   51         1.When the customer opens an account for electric service
   52  with the electric utility; and
   53         2.At least semiannually by including an insert in his or
   54  her monthly statement or by e-mail if the customer has provided
   55  his or her e-mail address to the electric utility.
   56         (c) Certification that of a customer’s electricity needs
   57  are as medically essential requires the customer to complete
   58  forms supplied by the public utility and to submit to the
   59  electric utility a completed application that includes the
   60  standard form and the medical certification a form completed by
   61  a health care practitioner which states physician licensed in
   62  this state pursuant to chapter 458 or chapter 459 which states
   63  in medical and nonmedical terms why the electric service is
   64  medically essential and specifies the period for which the
   65  electric service is expected to remain medically essential. The
   66  certification may not extend beyond 60 months. Falsification of
   67  the False certification of medically essential service by a
   68  physician is a violation of s. 458.331(1)(h), or s.
   69  459.015(1)(i), or s. 464.018(1)(f).
   70         (d)(b)The certification must Medically essential service
   71  shall be recertified upon its expiration or once every 12 months
   72  after its issuance under subsection (4), whichever is later. The
   73  electric public utility shall send the certified customer by
   74  regular mail, or by e-mail if the customer has provided his or
   75  her e-mail address to the electric utility, a package of
   76  recertification materials, including recertification forms, at
   77  least 60 30 days prior to the expiration of the customer’s
   78  certification. The materials must shall advise the certified
   79  customer that he or she must complete and submit the
   80  recertification forms within 30 days after the expiration of the
   81  customer’s existing certification. If the recertification forms
   82  are not received within this 30-day period, the electric public
   83  utility may terminate the customer’s certification.
   84         (4) Each electric public utility must shall certify a
   85  customer’s electric service as medically essential if the
   86  customer completes the requirements of subsection (3).
   87         (5) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, an
   88  electric a public utility may disconnect service to a residence
   89  whenever an emergency may threaten the health or safety of a
   90  person, the surrounding area, or the electric utility public
   91  utility’s distribution system. The electric public utility shall
   92  act promptly to restore service as soon as feasible.
   93         (6) A customer whose service is certified as medically
   94  essential shall have the same time as a residential customer to
   95  pay his or her monthly statement, but such time may not be less
   96  than 20 days after the electric utility mails or e-mails his or
   97  her monthly statement. Before an electric utility may disconnect
   98  the customer’s electric service for nonpayment, in addition to
   99  any other notice provided in the utility’s normal course of
  100  business, the electric utility must attempt to contact the
  101  customer no later than 15 days and again no later than 7 days
  102  before the scheduled disconnection 24 hours before any scheduled
  103  disconnection of service for nonpayment of bills to a customer
  104  who requires medically essential service, a public utility shall
  105  attempt to contact the customer by telephone, and by e-mail if
  106  the customer has provided his or her e-mail address to the
  107  electric utility, in order to provide notice of the scheduled
  108  disconnection. If the customer does not have a telephone number
  109  listed on the account or if the electric public utility cannot
  110  reach the customer or other adult resident of the premises by
  111  telephone or e-mail by the specified time, the electric public
  112  utility shall send a representative to the customer’s residence
  113  to attempt to contact the customer or resident, no later than 2
  114  business days 4 p.m. of the day before the scheduled
  115  disconnection. If contact is not made, however, the electric
  116  public utility must may leave written notification at the
  117  residence advising the customer of the scheduled disconnection.
  118  Thereafter, the electric public utility may disconnect service
  119  on the scheduled disconnection date if payment has not been made
  120  or the customer has not made satisfactory payment arrangements
  121  specified date.
  122         (7) Each electric public utility customer who requires
  123  medically essential service is responsible for making
  124  satisfactory arrangements with the electric public utility to
  125  ensure payment for such service, and such arrangements must be
  126  consistent with the requirements of the utility’s tariff.
  127         (8) Each electric public utility customer who requires
  128  medically essential service is solely responsible for any backup
  129  equipment or power supply and a planned course of action in the
  130  event of a power outage or interruption of service.
  131         (9) Each electric public utility that provides electric
  132  service to any customer whose electric service is certified as
  133  medically essential who requires medically essential service
  134  shall call, contact, or otherwise advise, and e-mail if the
  135  customer has provided his or her e-mail address to the electric
  136  utility, the such customer of scheduled service interruptions.
  137         (10)(a) Each electric public utility shall provide
  138  information on sources of state or local agency funding that
  139  which may provide financial assistance to the electric utility
  140  public utility’s customers who require medically essential
  141  service and who notify the electric public utility of their need
  142  for financial assistance.
  143         (b)1. Each electric public utility that operates a program
  144  to receive voluntary financial contributions from its the public
  145  utility’s customers to provide assistance to persons who are
  146  unable to pay for the electric utility services public utility’s
  147  services shall maintain a list of all agencies to which the
  148  electric public utility distributes such funds for such purposes
  149  and shall make the list available to any such person who
  150  requests the list.
  151         2. Each electric public utility that operates such a
  152  program shall:
  153         a. Maintain a system of accounting for the specific amounts
  154  distributed to each such agency, and the electric public utility
  155  and such agencies shall maintain a system of accounting for the
  156  specific amounts distributed to persons under such respective
  157  programs.
  158         b. Train its customer service representatives to assist any
  159  person who possesses a medically essential certification as
  160  provided in this section in identifying such agencies and
  161  programs.
  162         (11) Nothing in this act shall form the basis for any cause
  163  of action against an electric a public utility. Failure to
  164  comply with any obligation created by this act does not
  165  constitute evidence of negligence on the part of the electric
  166  public utility.
  167         Section 2. Section 456.45, Florida Statutes, is created to
  168  read:
  169         456.45Certification of medically essential electric
  170  utility service.—
  171         (1)As used in this section, the term “health care
  172  practitioner” means a physician or physician assistant licensed
  173  under chapter 458 or chapter 459 or an advanced registered nurse
  174  practitioner licensed under chapter 464.
  175         (2)A health care practitioner who determines that a
  176  patient may be at risk of loss of life or immediate
  177  hospitalization if the patient were to lose electric service at
  178  the patient’s residential service address shall inform the
  179  patient of the right to obtain certification under the medically
  180  essential electric service program pursuant to s. 366.15 and
  181  provide the patient with a written copy of the law.
  182         (3)At the request of a patient who meets the criteria in
  183  subsection (2), the health care practitioner must provide the
  184  patient a completed medical certification using the form adopted
  185  by the Florida Public Service Commission under s. 366.15(3) and
  186  document the certification in the patient’s record.
  187         Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2018.