20.31.03.01

.01 Restrictions for Serious Illness and Life-Support Equipment.

A. Electric or gas service, or both, may not be terminated for an initial period of up to 30 days beyond the scheduled date of service termination when the termination will aggravate an existing serious illness or prevent the use of life-support equipment of any occupant of the premises, subject to the provisions of this regulation.

B. Certification Requirement.

(1) A serious illness or the need for life-support equipment shall be certified to the utility by:

(a) A licensed physician;

(b) A certified nurse practitioner; or

(c) A physician assistant.

(2) When a utility uses a form for the physician, a certified nurse practitioner, or physician assistant to certify a serious illness or the need for life support equipment under this regulation, it shall use the form provided by the Commission.

(3) A utility shall accept a certification from a licensed physician, a certified nurse practitioner, or a physician assistant of a serious illness or need for life support equipment under this regulation.

(4) Except when a form is used under §B(2) of this regulation, the physician, certified nurse practitioner or a physician assistant certification required under §B(1) of this regulation shall be in writing and include:

(a) The name and address of the seriously ill person;

(b) A statement that the seriously ill person or person in need of life support equipment is the customer or an occupant of the premises;

(c) The name, address, telephone number, physician or certified nurse practitioner license number, and signature of the certifying physician, certified nurse practitioner, or physician assistant; and

(d) A statement that termination will aggravate a serious illness or prevent the use of life-support equipment.

(5) A utility shall accept the physician, certified nurse practitioner, or physician assistant certification under this regulation either in paper form or by facsimile or as a scanned original attached to an email from the certifying physician’s or certified nurse practitioner’s office.

C. The certifying physician, the certified nurse practitioner, the physician assistant, or the customer may initially telephone the utility of the intent to obtain certification. The required certificate is to be forwarded to the utility not later than the day before the scheduled date for termination of service.

D. The customer shall promptly, within 30 days of submitting a certification under this regulation, enter into an agreement with the utility for the payment of the unpaid bills and current amounts due for service in accordance with COMAR 20.31.01.08.

E. Certification may be renewed by the customer, a licensed physician, a certified nurse practitioner, or physician assistant by providing another certificate to the utility, including updated information specified in §B(4) of this regulation. Renewal of a certification may not relieve the customer of responsibility to enter into or to maintain an existing payment agreement, as provided in §D of this regulation.

F. Sufficiency of Certification.

(1) If the utility questions the adequacy or integrity of the certification provided:

(a) The utility may refuse to honor the certification provided under §B(1) of this regulation only for the following reasons:

(i) The certification form is not completed;

(ii) The certification form is not signed by a licensed physician, certified nurse practitioner, or physician assistant; or

(iii) The certification form appears to have been altered; or

(b) The utility may petition the Commission to determine the adequacy of the certification provided under §B of this regulation for any other reason.

(2) If the utility files a petition under §F(1)(b) of this regulation, the utility may not terminate service until:

(a) The Commission determines the adequacy of the certification; or

(b) The certification has expired and has not been renewed.

G. A utility may terminate electric or gas service to the premises of a customer under this regulation only if the utility:

(1) Between the date the notice of termination is mailed to the customer and the date on or after which service is to be terminated, at a minimum, attempts to make personal contact with the customer on two separate occasions, each of which shall occur on a separate date;

(2) Attempts to make personal contact with the customer by either:

(a) Telephoning the customer during business hours, or, if no one is home, during the evening after 6 p.m.; or

(b) Visiting the premises and leaving a copy of the notice of termination with the customer or a responsible person 18 years old or older at the premises, or, if no one is at home, leaving a copy of the notice at the premises; and

(3) Documents each attempt to make personal contact under this section.

H. If personal contact is made, the utility shall inform the customer of possible sources of financial assistance and the availability of alternate payment plans or other payment arrangements offered by the utility.