Michigan city grapples with power shutoffs

Jan. 27, 2009 at 1:02 PM

BAY CITY , Mich., Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Officials in Bay City, Mich., say they want to help people struggling to pay higher utility bills after the death of a man whose power had been turned off.

The Bay City Commission voted Monday to increase the rates charged by the city owned power company despite the continuing uproar over the death of 93-year-old Marvin Schur, whose electricity had been shut off earlier this month.

The Bay City Times said Tuesday Schur was behind more than $1,000 on his electric bill and his home had been fitted with a "limiter," a device that restricts the amount of power going into a residence.

The newspaper said for some reason the limiter on Schur's home cut off all power, plunging the temperature inside to near freezing.

Community activists say winter power shutoffs are inhumane, but the city says Schur and others like him should get hold of the city to work out payment plans.

"I'm certain if there had been some communication we could solved this without the tragedy that occurred," said Phil Newton, head of the city electricity department. "This should have been worked out."

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