Burned man still hospitalized after electric shock

A Hephzibah man burned while trying to restore his disconnected electrical service remained hospitalized today as utility officials continue to investigate the unusual accident.


Shortly after Berry M. “Monty” Arrington’s service was disconnected from his residence at 2019 Liberty Church Road on Friday afternoon, he apparently climbed a ladder and tried to reconnect the lines. The resulting jolt from the 7,200-volt line threw him from the ladder, breaking his back and burning both of his arms.

A hospital spokeswoman at Medical College of Georgia Hospital said Mr. Arrington was listed in critical condition today.

Meanwhile, a reader of The Augusta Chronicle’s story posted Monday on its Web site contacted officials at Jefferson Energy Cooperative and paid Mr. Arrington’s $91 balance and a reconnection fee.

“It was the right thing to do,” said the Atlanta woman, who is a former Augusta resident who did not want to be named.

Jefferson Energy could not say how many customers are disconnected each year for overdue payments, but said the cooperative typically follows the same rules as those imposed by the Georgia Public Service Commission on larger, for-profit utilities.

“As a courtesy, we go by what the PSC says,” Mr. Chalker said.

The commission rules stipulate that power cannot be disconnected if the temperature is forecast to dip below 32 degrees within 24 hours of the disconnection.

In a Monday interview, Mr. Chalker said the cutoff was 40 degrees. “I had said 40, but after checking, we don’t cut it off if it goes below 32.”

Saturday’s low temperature in Augusta, according to the National Weather Service, was 34 degrees.

Jefferson Energy, with about 30,000 customers, is one of 42 non-profit electric membership cooperatives. Georgia Power Company, by comparison, has more than 2.3 million customers.

Georgia Power spokeswoman Konswello Monroe said she could not divulge how many customers are disconnected each year for non-payment. “I can say, though, that we have disconnected fewer customers this year than we did last year.”

Georgia Power follows the Public Service Commission rule, Ms. Monroe said.

“During cold weather, it will not be disconnected if at 8 a.m. on date of the scheduled disconnection, the temperature, or forecasted low, for the next 24 hours, is expected to be 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below,” she said.

Similar rules apply during hot weather, when the forecasted high temperature is 98 degrees or higher, or when there is a heat index forecast of 110 degrees or higher.

Cut-off Guidelines

Georgia Public Service Commission criteria for disconnection of electrical service*:

• Bill for service is not paid within at least 45 days after the date of the bill.

• Written notice of proposed disconnect must be provided at least five days prior to date of disconnection.

• Utility makes good-faith effort to make personal contact at least two days prior to the proposed disconnect date.

• Service shall not be disconnected for illness nonpayment when the company receives written notice from a healthcare provider certifying the illness would be aggravated by the discontinuance of service. The disconnection shall be held the shorter of either the duration of the illness or one month from the date of the notice.

• Customer may renew postponement period one additional time.

• If the forecasted low temperature for a 24-hour period beginning at 8:00 a.m. on the date of proposed disconnect is below 32ºF, service shall not be disconnected on that day.

*NOTE: these rules apply only to Georgia Power and Savannah Electric Power Company, but many electric membership cooperatives voluntarily adhere to same rules.

Source: Georgia Public Service Commission



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