Support for Spousal Caregivers

by Lawrence Bocchiere III, Legislative Affairs
January 2009

Very often we accept the path of least resistance.  We acquiesce and work our way around difficult situations.  As  Well Spouses, we are probably better adapted than most for getting things done- especially when it concerns our spouses!  As an advocate for political change I want to give you an example of perseverance where I was able to make a small impact for the better for my entire neighborhood.
 
In Connecticut we have electrical distributors that bring the power from electric generation companies to our homes.  Although the distributors are monopolies,  there is competition amongst the generation companies.
 
For the past five years we have seen deterioration in our service, with the thirty families on my entire street losing power on an average of five times per year.  We dreaded thunder storms, as they normally presaged a loss of power for two to eight hours. With a spouse dependent upon medical equipment run by electricity, I am sure you understand the problems we faced.  Of course, I have a generator - however it is NOT tied in to my electrical panel and is not an 'automatic on" unit.  When necessary I would stabilize my wife, take the generator out of the shed, start it and run extension cords as necessary.  As an additional insult, never once have the homes fifty feet from my back door lost power during these periods!  
 
After some calls to the electrical distributor I learned that the homes in back of me are on a newer, more reliable 'grid' as opposed to the homes on my street which are on the final leg of the older power grid.
 
I sent a letter expressing my wife's needs, as well as a narrative concerning the dates of lost power. I requested that our home be moved to the more reliable grid. Four weeks later I received a letter from the distributor explaining that they did have our medical necessity papers on file,  but they suggested we purchase a generator for the times we lost power.  They totally ignored my request to be moved to the other grid, as well as other comments I had made concerning electrical rates (ours being the second highest cost in the nation).  I responded with a second letter specifically requesting the relocation of my power supply.  Six weeks passed without a reply.
 
I then sent an email to the Connecticut State Attorney General explaining that this 'monopoly' utility was failing to provide adequate service and requesting their assistance.  I sent copies of all my correspondence along with it.
 
Ten days later I received a telephone call from the utility explaining why they could not move my home to the other grid.  The engineer that called admitted his office was contacted by the Attorney General.  My response was measured - I asked exactly what they COULD do to improve their service and alleviate the problems caused to disabled consumers.  I also told him that while I could write letters complaining about bad service,  I could also write them praising good service.  He had an idea and promised to get back to me in four weeks.
Two weeks later he called again.  They could not move my house but they could move ALL the families on my street to the newer power grid in back of us.  He explained that they would have to replace two poles and that the change would not be made until February 2009.  I accepted this resolution, thanked him and immediately contacted the Attorney General again explaining the resolve and thanking their office.
 
Last week the new poles were installed.  Yesterday our street received letters stating that there would be a power outage for two hours December 29th when our utility will take action to upgrade the 'reliability of our service'.  After the upgrade I will write a letter to the editor of our local paper thanking the utility for helping my wife and all consumers.
 
So do not lose heart - you CAN beat city hall - you CAN be heard and you CAN accomplish real change. o

Address

63 West Main St, Suite H
63 West Main St, Suite H
Freehold, NJ 07728
Freehold, NJ 07728
Phone: (800) 838-0879
Phone: (800) 838-0879