According to WSWS.org, John Skelley was found “unresponsive, huddled under blankets next to a space heater” in his Hazel Park, Michigan home on February 1. The 69-year-old, who served two-tours in Vietnam, died of hypothermia after Consumers Energy (CMS) shut off the natural gas to the house he was living in for nonpayment on January 19. One week later, unsurprisingly, temperatures dipped into the teens for lows, because, you know, it’s winter . . . in Michigan.
It is reported that the retired factory worker was also suffering from throat cancer.
Skelley lived with a roommate, Joseph Mixen, who was the account holder at CMS. Company records show there was an outstanding balance of $760.28. Mixen had set up a payment plan on the amount, but had failed to pay the bi-weekly payments. According to Deborah Dodd, spokesperson for Consumers Energy, “It’s very unfortunate. We had no idea that anyone else was living with him.”
She continued, “We need our customers to let us know if they’re having problems, sooner the better. We can’t help you if we don’t know you need help.”
The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) has requested CMS file a report regarding Skelley’s death. During winter months, November 1 through March 31, utility companies in Michigan are prohibited from disconnecting heat in homes of those 65 years of age and older. However, because the company claims they had no knowledge that Mr. Skelley lived in the home, the shutoff protection program did not apply and they claim their process was followed without error.
Here’s an idea – don’t shut off anyone’s energy source that provides heat when temperatures may fall well below freezing. The low in Hazel Park, Michigan the day of John Skelley’s death was 18 degrees Fahrenheit.
Don’t worry, they extended their sympathy to the family, so that makes it all ok, right?
“This recent Hazel Park death from apparent hypothermia is indeed tragic, and our sympathy goes out to his family, friends and all who’ve been affected by his loss.”
CMS Energy Corporation is ranked #394 on the Fortune 500 for 2014. With revenue at nearly $6.6 billion – those revenues would have been short $760.28, but they were able to get blood from a turnip.
Local Fox station, My Fox Detroit reports: