Dover Shutting off Electricity Because of Overdue Balances - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Dover Shutting off Electricity Because of Overdue Balances

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A Dover electric bill. The red circles indicate where it lists the bill must be paid by to avoid disconnection. (Photo: WBOC) A Dover electric bill. The red circles indicate where it lists the bill must be paid by to avoid disconnection. (Photo: WBOC)
A notice sent out to residents on Feb. 3 explaining the city's intention to start shutting off power to overdue accounts Feb. 1. (Photo WBOC) A notice sent out to residents on Feb. 3 explaining the city's intention to start shutting off power to overdue accounts Feb. 1. (Photo WBOC)

DOVER, Del.- Some people in Dover have had their electricity shut off as the city has started enforcing non-payment rules starting this past Monday.

Lorraine Loper is a resident who had her power shut off because of an outstanding balance on her account. She said she would usually pay the overdue month and not have a problem. The rules now require her to have no balance on her account.

She came home Monday night to a cold, dark house with no electricity. 

"I just went on and stayed in here with a candle," she said. "I did, I stayed in the cold. But imagine the people that had lifelines and stuff like that. [They] didn't think about them."

The Dover City Council voted in December to begin enforcing rules that are already on the books, according to Kay Sass, the Dover public affairs coordinator.

Sass said there are currently $900,000 in outstanding customer electric bills. 

Mayor Robin Christiansen told WBOC it was a business decision, one that was financially responsible for the city.

"The city has to pay up front for energy that we purchase, and that's why [the council] felt 100 percent payment now was necessary for us to pay for the energy we pass on to our customers," Christiansen said. 

Lorraine Loper said she feels like she should have had more notice, because a lot of people are on a fixed income. 

"If it went in effect February the 1st, I would say six months before that they should have said... They're saying they sent out a letter January 1st letting you know," she said.

Everyone in Dover did receive a notice with their January bill that outlined new fee changes. The notice lists a bad check fee, a bill reprint fee and an after hours service fee.

The notice did not mention the decision to begin enforcing shut-off rules. Warning signs were posted in customer service, and the shut-offs began Feb. 1. An explicit notice stating their intention to strictly enforce disconnections did not go out until Feb 3. 

Mayor Christiansen said there are deferment and payment plan options for those who have cases of genuine hardships. He said the payment plans must be strictly adhered to or there will be shut-offs.

"The city is very generous in the fact that we do have mechanisms in place for genuine cases of hardship," he said. "It's my contention to everyone, and I hope that's the reflection of the council that we have compassion if we can justify it."

City Hall did not have numbers of how many people are affected, but the mayor's office did say the $900,000 in outstanding bills is from both residential and commercial accounts. 

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