Tuesday, December 04, 2007

PULP Replies to National Grid's "Grand Plan" Defense

National Grid has been demanding that applicants for utility service pay 100% of bills for old, closed accounts, or $1,000 if the amount owed exceeds $1,000, if, during the prior period of service the customer had defaulted on a deferred payment agreement (DPA). See New Barrier to Utility Service: National Grid's "One Grand Demand".

The "Grand Plan" results in denial or lengthy delays in service and considerable hardship. The absence of safe utility service can be a matter of life or death, as illustrated by a recent, tragic Pennsylvania case. See Mom Sought Help Before Fatal Fire.

Applicants denied utility service due to the "Grand Plan" rule are challenging it in a Petition Seeking Interim Relief and a Declaratory Ruling and Other Relief to the Public Service Commission filed October 16, 2007. See PSC Asked to Investigate Grid's "Grand Plan".

Petitioners argue that Section 31 of the Public Service Law requires National Grid to offer a DPA with a down payment of no more than half the balance due or the amount of three months'
service, whichever is less. Also, they argue that under Section 37, all payment agreements must be fair and equitable and based on the customer's financial situation.

All of the individuals who filed affidavits in support of the petition, from whom utility service ahd been withheld under the challenged rule, have now received service without paying the "One Grand Demand." National Grid continues to apply the rule to other persons who have not joined in the case.

Discovery in the case indicates that the "Grand Plan" was adopted by National Grid in 2004 without public notice and without filing revised tariffs. As a result, the rules were not subject to objection by consumer groups and there was no PSC order approving the new conditions for service before they were implemented.
On November 20, 2007, National Grid filed its response to the amended petition.

On November 30, 2007 PULP filed its reply for the petitioners.

For more information, see PULP's web page on the National Grid "Grand Plan."

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