Illegal power disconnections

What's going on around town ? Ya got problems ? Come here. Got solutions ? Let's hear em. Please keep topic about North Saint Paul Stuff.

Illegal power disconnections

Postby matcarlson » 28 Sep 2010, 17:16

I don't think that too many people know this - The City of North Saint Paul is illegally disconnection people's power since 2006... Completely illegal, and the City won't do a thing about it:

Minnesota Statute 216B.097 requires Municipal Utilities, like the City of North Saint Paul, to provide certain information to residential customers facing disconnection 15 to 20 days before disconnecting our electric service between 10/15 and 4/15 of each year. The information required is:

1. a notice of proposed disconnection;
2. a statement explaining the customer's rights and responsibilities;
3. a list of local energy assistance providers;
4. forms on which to declare inability to pay; and
5. a statement explaining available time payment plans and other opportunities to secure continued utility service.

This information MUST be given to every single customer between August 1st and October 15th of each year as well.


My story - The city disconnected my power on 12/3/2009 for not paying their deposit. They didn't bill me for the deposit, but I did get a bill for $4.51 that was due on 12/5/2009. Can you see the confusion? I forgot about the deposit, but they never gave me notice of my disconnection.

I paid for the power to be reconnected that day, although I was rather angry. I talked with the people in the Utility Department. They don't know anything about the long-standing law. So, I went to the City attorney, Joel Jamnik. He said that I am not covered by this law because they are not required to send me notice as I don't use electricity as my primary heat source. Ok, that'd fly, if they sent the notice:

M.S. 216B.097 Subdivision 1(a) has a requirement that the disconnection is illegal if the utility to be disconnected is used for the primary heat source and one of a few other requirements. The problem is that Subdivision 1(a) has no bearing on any other parts of the section. Their attorney says that the requirement in Subdivision 1(a) applies to the entire statute.

The problem with that logic is that laws are written in a Parent/Child relationship - Meaning that if that if the notice requirement was in Subdivision 1(a)(1), they'd be correct. Because the requirements I'm angry about are not under Subdivision 1(a), they stand by themselves, only subject to the laws it cites and the laws it's a child to.


This isn't just me saying this - I've talked to almost a dozen attorneys about this, all whom agree with me. I'm not trying to sue the city at this point, but it's closer than I'd like. I've filed a complaint with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, who is responsible for enforcement of that law. They said that they have "little to no power to enforce laws against Municipal Utilities", even though it's their job (per Minnesota Statute, not just logic). I've sent e-mails to my state represnetatives, to Wally )the city administrator), the Pioneer Press, and others. No one is willing to help.

I really like this city, but I'm not about to stand and defend through inaction the city illegal abuses of power. I'm trying to formulate a plan to get them to follow the law, but it's not looking good.


Can anyone help me with this? All that I want is the City to follow the law and send notices to their residents when their power is going to be disconnected, as required by law for the last 4 or more years. If I can get some residents together on this, maybe we can force the city to follow the law.... Hopefully. I'd rather not move out of the city for this, but I won't stand for it.



I'm setting a website up for this:
http://www.northsaintpaulpower.info

My personal website:
http://www.matcarlson.com

The Minnesota Statute in question:[url]
https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=216B.097[/url]
Last edited by matcarlson on 29 Sep 2010, 11:57, edited 1 time in total.
http://www.matcarlson.com
http://www.northsaintpaulpower.info
*** Not affiliated with the City of North Saint Paul, except for being a customer and resident ***
matcarlson
 
Posts: 2
Joined: 28 Sep 2010, 16:54
Location: North Saint Paul, MN

Re: Illegal power disconnections

Postby Agitator » 28 Sep 2010, 20:25

matcarlson wrote:M.S. 216B.097 Subdivision 1(a) has a requirement that the disconnection is illegal if the utility to be disconnected is used for the primary heat source and one of a few other requirements.

I don't know if this applies to your situation, but as I read it, 216B.097 does not exactly require that electricity has to be the primary heat source. It says "affects the primary heat source."

So wouldn't the notification rule apply if you have a gas furnace that has an electric starter, electric thermostat, or electric air circulation, etc?
User avatar
Agitator
 
Posts: 1707
Joined: 07 Apr 2005, 01:12
Location: North Saint Paul, Precinct 4

Postby matcarlson » 29 Sep 2010, 11:56

Thank you for reading my post - I'm glad that someone has at least some interest in this.

You are correct - In my case, I live in an apartment, so the building uses natural gas to heat and electricity to turn the valves on and off for each apartment. If my building used individual Solenoid valves powered by individual power transformers in each apartment (which it may - I'm not sure), I would be totally covered by this law, as long as I follow the rest of the provisions.

The notification section applies for all residential customers, regardless of heat source, as it's in Subdivision 3:

"Subd. 3.Restrictions if disconnection necessary. (a) If a residential customer must be involuntarily disconnected between October 15 and April 15 for failure to comply with subdivision 1,..... Further, the disconnection must not occur until at least 20 days after the notice required in subdivision 2 has been mailed to the customer or 15 days after the notice has been personally delivered to the customer."


This does say "for a failure to comply with subdivision 1," where the Primary Heat Source requirement is located. Logically, if I don't use electricity(in my case) that affects the primary heat source, I fail to comply with the provisions of Subdivision 1, similar to if I made too much for the income requirements in the same subdivision.


The reason for this law is to keep people from losing their heat source (including the control equipment, which usually always run on electricity) if they are unable to pay their utility bill in full. The notice section applies to everyone for the specific reason that the utility company can't possibility know with 100% certainty that their customer doesn't use that fuel source for their primary heat source.

Basically, anyone in the city of North Saint Paul has been illegally disconnected if they've been disconnected any time since 2006 (during the Cold Weather Period 10/15 to 4/15). Also, anyone that has received a disconnection notice in the Cold Weather Period since 2006 has been wronged, as it doesn't contain the required information from my original post.

See a disconnection notice I received on 4/1/2010 (and paid on the same day):

http://tinyurl.com/nspdisconnect
Also a pleasant link to the law in question:
https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=216B.097
http://www.matcarlson.com
http://www.northsaintpaulpower.info
*** Not affiliated with the City of North Saint Paul, except for being a customer and resident ***
matcarlson
 
Posts: 2
Joined: 28 Sep 2010, 16:54
Location: North Saint Paul, MN

Postby Agitator » 03 Oct 2010, 15:55

I think 216B.097 could have been written more clearly, but.

It looks to me like subdivision 1(a) describes the city's obligation, to extend extra help to low income residents personally.

It looks to me like, regardless of whether or not subdivision 1(a) applies, subdivision 2 requires the city to notify personally any customer about procedures and options before cutoff of electricity.

It is also the decent thing to do.

Perhaps a phone call to the Attorney General's office would confirm this -- asking whether the city is in compliance with with 216B.097.
User avatar
Agitator
 
Posts: 1707
Joined: 07 Apr 2005, 01:12
Location: North Saint Paul, Precinct 4

Postby apple522 » 19 Jan 2011, 01:08

deleted by admin
apple522
 

Postby Tremors » 19 Jan 2011, 14:18

Oh goodie, the pests have returned to the forum.
I know who I am! I'm a dude playing a dude, disguised as another dude!
User avatar
Tremors
 
Posts: 1422
Joined: 09 May 2006, 15:28
Location: Back in the north country!

Pest!

Postby Bigtime » 23 Jan 2011, 13:17

Where is the exterminator?
Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before. (M West)
User avatar
Bigtime
 
Posts: 1166
Joined: 04 Jun 2005, 10:38


Return to North Saint Paul Community Chat

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

cron