At Holden Litigation
We Play To Win
At Holden Litigation
We Play To Win
At Holden Litigation
We Play To Win

When should public utilities compensate for your inconveniences?

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2023 | Energy Litigation

Public utilities are essential services that we rely on every day for our health, safety and well-being. Since disruptions to these services can cause significant harm, they must remain uninterrupted. To ensure this, we expect public utilities to offer compensation when their actions or inactions lead to inconvenience. However, the challenge lies in determining when these disruptions have caused measurable inconvenience or loss to customers.

What’s ‘inconvenience’ may be subjective.

The term ‘inconvenience’ can be subjective and vary from person to person. For instance, a short power outage may not be that inconvenient for those with backup generators. However, for those relying solely on electricity, it may lead to a significant disruption of their activities.

Similarly, a water main break and a boil water advisory may not be alarming for most. However, it can be dangerous for people with weakened immune systems or medical conditions. This shows how important it is to think about the specific needs of each person when deciding how to handle service interruptions.

It has a bigger impact on vulnerable populations.

Even if inconveniences may seem minor, they can greatly impact vulnerable populations. Think of the elderly, young children and those with chronic medical conditions. Prolonged electricity loss or water service disruptions can severely affect them.

Without electricity, they may lose access to life-saving equipment or have spoiled food. This may lead to heat-related illnesses or even loss of life. Similarly, water service disruptions can cause dehydration, hygiene issues and an increased risk of waterborne illnesses.

There are fair compensation parameters.

Whether utility providers should pay for interruptions depends on how much trouble or loss customers face. Here are some factors to assess the need for compensation:

  • How long was the service disrupted?
  • How serious are the problems caused by the service interruption?
  • How much might the people affected lose or be harmed if the service is disrupted?

People may receive payment for service interruptions, which can vary based on their situation. If they need to find alternative accommodation because of what happened, they may even be paid for the expenses from their own pockets.

Public utilities’ responsibility

Maintaining uninterrupted public utility services is responsible for safeguarding public safety and health. To uphold this role, they must address service interruptions promptly. Service providers must also provide fair compensation to those affected.

However, if the inconvenience suffered is insufficient to warrant compensation, it would be wise for service providers to seek legal counsel. Doing so can help them understand their obligations and options so they can mitigate the inconvenience and financial losses caused by service interruptions. At the same time, they can also maintain their customers’ trust and confidence.