George Wiley Center

Wikimedia Commons

National grid customers in Rhode Island are suing the company, along with the state’s public utilities division. They claim National Grid broke the law turning off their power, despite their low-income or medically vulnerable status.

National Grid spokesman David Graves said there are many safeguards in place before a customer has their power shut off.

“Shutting customers off, terminating their service, is the last step that we take in a very long process to work with the customers, particularly if they’re having trouble paying their utility bills,” said Graves.

Advocates for the poor are raising concerns about proposed changes in Rhode Island’s utility shut-off rules.

For years, Rhode Island law has forbidden utility shutoffs from November 1st through April 15th. Under new rules being considered by the state Public Utilities Commission, that window would be closed April 1st and people would have earn less to be protected.

Debbie Clark of the George Wiley Center, a non-profit that advocates for the poor, said an April 1st moratorium shutoff is far too early for chilly New England.