A 93-year old man has frozen to death in his home in northern Michigan, prompting calls of scorn for the utility who cut off his power due to unpaid bills.
World War 2 veteran Marvin Schur died last week in his home where a "limiter" had been placed on his home by Bay City Electric Light & Power.
The city keeps the limiter on a residence for 10 days, at which point the city shuts off all electricity if the homeowner hasn't paid his utility bill.
Officials believe the limiter tripped off the flow of power and Schur didn't reset the device.
The temperature inside Schur's home dropped below 32 degrees (F), according to neighbours who found his body.
John Tennant, a local citizen's group spokesman, called for swift action from city leaders, according to a story in local newspaper the Bay City News.
"We need to take every step possible to make sure this does not happen anymore," he said. "This is a very, very sad thing."
Kathy O'Brien, 46, told the newspaper she was horrified to hear about the death of Schur.
"It could have been anybody's dad," said O'Brien.
Phil Newton, electric department director, said there are about 60 to 70 limiters in use across the city, about three times as many as a year ago.
He said he blames the bad economy, which has left residents struggling to pay their bills. He said the city issues about 50 shut-off notices each week.
"It's been terrible. We've seen it for over a year now," he said. "We actually have almost two full-time people just dedicated to going around and turning people on and off and putting on limiters. It's just really bad."
Newton said limiters have been used by the city for 18 years and this is the first time there's been a major problem.
"It's just unfortunate that this gentleman didn't reach out," said mayor Charles M. Brunner.
"We would have been there. We would have pointed him in the right direction or put him on some sort of payment plan."
OUTRAGE AT OUTAGE
Here's a random selection of the public opinion the incident has generated:
I can tell you one thing, soon as it's more affordable, I will find ways to supplement my electricity using more green methods. As for our city manager, I hope he rots.
* * *
Looks like they want to get rid of a few more elderly next year when they can't afford their bill.
* * *
All utility companies should be mandated to have a department to police all accounts before they get cut off, especially during the heat of the summer or the colder months of winter. I'm sure there were thousands in the area, who would have paid this man's bill and even set up an account to ensure he never had to worry about electrical service again, if only they had known about the delimma of this poor man.
* * *
If I accidently killed someone with my car, never meaning to hurt anyone (and that's why they are called accidents) I could be looking at 2 years in prison, but the City can cut off an elderly WW2 vets electricity knowing full well he might die in there and get away with it? Something's wrong with this picture!
* * *
Bad economy or not, it's not like we are in a great depression right now so there is no excuse for this to happen especially in the 21st century USA.
* * *
In Minnesota there is a state law that prohibits the disconnection of gas or electricity durign the winter heating season, without a lot of extra process that is designed to enusre that people are given every opprotunity to make arrangements to pay their bill.
* * *
The worker who failed to make contact with this poor man, the supervisor of that worker, and everyone right on up the chain should all be brought up on charges.
If a person has a dog that is left outside with no heat, and that dog dies due to exposure, the owner of the dog is charged with a crime.
* * *
Yes, they followed the letter of the law, as was quickly pointed out by our Manager. So, that makes it 'right' in the lawyers' eyes, but what about the citizens? Does our opinion count or will no action be taken to prevent this despicable act from repeating itself?
* * *
I am shocked and horrified at this whole affair. Apparently Bay City has placed a price on human life. That price is about $1000.
- NZHERALD STAFF, agencies