Gov Granholm signs bills restricting utility shutoffs

The freezing death of a World War II veteran has prompted new Michigan laws to protect municipal utility customers from having their electricity and natural gas shut off.

The five bills Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed into law Monday especially protect low-income customers and seniors from losing their power and heat.

The measures were prompted by the January death of Marvin Schur, a 93-year-old Bay City man who froze inside his home after Bay City Electric Light & Power installed a power-limiting device because of unpaid bills.

Schur could afford to pay his bills but had no immediate family in the area to help him deal with his shutoff notices.

Bay County authorities in April decided against filing criminal charges. Schur's family has filed a civil suit against Bay City and the utility.