WEST HILLS (CBSLA.com) — A West Hills man who needs an artificial heart machine to stay alive said that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is threatening to shut off the power to his home.
Robert Coyle told CBS2’s Cristy Fajardo that the electricity to his home will turn off in four days unless he pays an eye-popping $3,036.90 bill.
“I have to have [the artificial heart machine]. This is life or death,” Coyle said.
Coyle’s wife, Cheree, said the dispute started about six months ago when their electric bill suddenly skyrocketed to $979.18.
With her husband disabled, Cheree, a teacher who is currently the sole provider for the family, called DWP to discuss the bill.
Cheree, however, was only able to reach an automated menu.
“If anything, our bill should be going down with the usage we have of not running our air conditioning unit. Because of the drought, we’ve let both the lawns die. How does your bill go up?” she said.
Instead of answers, Cheree said she just got more bills.
Coyle’s doctors got involved and tried to get the couple a reduced rate because of the medical necessity.
“My doctors have sent the papers at four different occasions … one even certified to them, and we’ve gotten no response,” Coyle said.
The Coyles said only one person at DWP has called them back but only to say that their bill was accurate.
“Sometimes, it just feels a little overwhelming,” Cheree said.
Fajardo spoke to a DWP spokesperson who said that they will not be shutting off the family’s power. The agency, however, believes the charges are accurate but wants to work with the couple.
Customer service will be in touch with the Coyles to arrange a payment plan and to help them sign up for programs that could reduce their rates.