An outdated and potentially dangerous public service law may soon be changed if legislation proposed by Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga) passes the state Legislature and is signed by the governor.
Current law allows authorized agents of utility companies to enter dwellings to read meters if doors are unlocked, the agents have photo identifications, and it’s between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. The law doesn’t require customers to be home or to specifically grant entry to the agents.
Tedisco says his bill is a response to a recent incident where a utility company employee – without knocking on the door or ringing a doorbell – entered a Saratoga County home while the occupant was there, startling the resident when she came across the intruder in her kitchen.
"In today’s world of violent crimes and sexual predators, the practice of entering homes uninvited is dangerous," said Tedisco. "It would be simple for a perpetrator to impersonate a utility worker to gain access to a home. It’s also dangerous for utility workers, who might find themselves on the receiving end of a baseball bat or gun."
Tedisco’s legislation would prohibit uninvited entries to dwellings by utility workers unless the customers or responsible individuals are home and grant permission for them to enter. The assemblyman said he has worked closely with utility companies to develop a policy that would allow them to do their job while ensuring the safety of utility employees and customers. New York State Electric and Gas decided to change their own policy. However, legislation is needed to change the law.
"This legislation will make customers and workers safer while protecting the privacy people expect to have in their homes," Tedisco said.
"On a similar public safety note, I encourage everyone to lock the doors to their homes, even when they’re at home. Customers should also ask for identification before allowing utility workers to enter their homes."