Utility Industry News

Energy Theft Bills Move In Senate Panel

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A package of bills designed to prevent energy theft and punish those who engage in it was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee today.

SB 1310, sponsored by Sen. Tupac HUNTER (D-Detroit), SB 1311, sponsored by Sen. Buzz THOMAS (D-Detroit), SB 1312, sponsored by Sen. Dennis OLSHOVE (D-Warren), SB 1313, sponsored by Irma CLARK-COLEMAN (D-Detroit), and SB 1314, sponsored by Sen. Mike NOFS (R-Battle Creek), were briefly explained before the committee by Mike O'BRIEN of Senate Republican Policy.

According to O'Brien, these bills would allow utilities to correct unauthorized use of utilities service, create a penalty for violation, create sentence guidelines for violation, and establish penalties for committing battery or assault on a utilities worker.

Sen. Tony STAMAS (R-Midland) asked about the penalties for assaulting a utilities worker, to which O'Brien responded that penalties were based on similar penalties for assaulting other service providers, such as government workers or postal workers.

Testimony had been taken the week before (See "Energy Theft Rates Shockingly Up," 5/18/10). All five bills were voted on and almost unanimously moved, with only Sen. Hansen CLARKE (D-Detroit) opting to pass, saying he was still working out some of the bill's language with the utilities industry.

Len SINGER of DTE Energy applauded the legislation, noting that it will protect Michigan utilities consumers and utilities service providers.

"These bills will help protect residents from illegal and dangerous utility hook-ups, and will also address unscrupulous landlords who fail to provide safe utility service to their tenants," Singer said.

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