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Law States Utility Employee Can Enter Your Home Without Permission

Capital News 9 | April 26 2005

Article 47, under Section 2 of the New York State Public Service Law states, "Any authorized agent of a utility company can enter any dwelling, so long as the door is unlocked, the agent has a photo ID, and it happens between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m."

Mechanicville Police Chief Joseph Waldron said, "When I was doing the research, I was saying to myself, there is no way. A police officer has to get a search warrant to get into a house. There is no way someone can just walk into a house and go to a meter and read it."

But it's true. Attention was drawn to the law early last week when a NYSEG reader entered the back door of a Mechanicville home, startling the woman inside.

Waldron said, "He says he put his head around the corner and said NYSEG, and the female says that he was actually in her kitchen."

On paper, it's legal. But in practice, it can be dangerous - and not just for the homeowner. The person who reads the meter can also be at risk.

Waldron said, "All of a sudden, you get startled, someone is entering your house and you don't know what's going on. You have a right to protect your house by using either physical force or deadly physical force."

Police and lawmakers said this recent incident highlights that the Public Service Law is outdated and needs to be modified.

Assemblyman James Tedisco said, "It doesn't make sense any more. It might have made sense 30, 40 or 50 years ago, but right now it doesn't make sense."

Tedisco is now working with utility providers like NYSEG and NiMo to try to modify the law. In the meantime, police recommend locking the door to your home at all times.