TITLE OF BILL:
to amend the public service law, in relation to electronic service of
PURPOSE OF THE BILL:
The bill would amend Public Service Law ("PSL") §23 to authorize
electronic service of orders of the Public Service Commission
("Commission") unless otherwise requested by a party to a Commission
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 of the bill would amend PSL § 23(1) to allow orders issued
by the Commission to be provided by electronic means pursuant to
Commission regulations, unless non-electronic service is requested.
Section 2 of the bill would make the bill effective immediately.
PSL §23(1) requires that every order of the Commission be served upon
all persons or corporations affected by such order either by: 1)
personal delivery; or 2) mail, in a sealed envelope with prepaid
postage, addressed to persons designated to receive a summons under
the Civil Practice Law and Rules.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
A similar proposal was introduced as part of the 2009-20 10 Executive
Budget but not included in the enacted Budget.
STATEMENT IN SUPPORT:
PSL §23(1) was enacted in 1910 and it mandates either personal
delivery or delivery by mail. Today, electronic communication is as
reliable as mail. The bill would further the intent of the Electronic
Signatures and Records Act ("ESRA"), State Technology Law Article
III, which was adopted because "it is in the best interest of the
State of New York, its citizens, businesses and government entities
for state and federal law to work in tandem to promote the use of
electronic technology in the everyday lives and transactions of such
individuals and entities." Laws of 2002, Ch. 314, § 1.
The Commission sends out approximately 650 orders annually, which must
be sent to multiple parties per case; large proceedings may have over
100 parties. Implementation of electronic service would vastly reduce
the cost of paper, envelopes, printing and mailing, and allow limited
staff to focus on other duties. ESRA provides agencies broad
authority to seek the savings of electronic transmittal and
electronic recordkeeping. However, ESRA implementing
regulations, 9 NYCRR §540.5(e), state that "(g)overnmental entities
using electronic records shall, in the absence of specific statutory
or regulatory requirements, have the authority to
specify the manner and format in which electronic records will be
received, produced, accepted, acquired, recorded, filed, transmitted,
forwarded, acknowledged and stored (emphasis added)." Because, in its
current form, PSL §23(1) specifically mandates personal service or
"by mailing a copy thereof, in a sealed package with postage
prepaid," it precludes electronic service of Commission Orders,
without a waiver.
The Commission has recently developed an electronic document
management system and promulgated implementing regulations. The
Commission now receives a majority of filings electronically, posts
all documents filed by every party and all documents issued by the
Commission on its web site, and serves Commission-issued documents -
primarily ALJ rulings, Secretary Notices, and Commission orders - by
sending links to the documents to those on its party and service
lists who have requested electronic service. Parties requesting mail
service of hard copy documents receive such service, as required by
ESRA, and that will not change under the proposed legislation.
Rather, the legislation would eliminate the need for the Commission
to seek explicit consents from each party to waive their right to
service by regular mail.
Accordingly, parties wishing to receive service of Commission Orders
and who request non-electronic service would continue to receive
service by either personal delivery or by mail.
A nominal amount of non-personal services savings is projected. There
are also large, but unquantifiable, efficiencies due to resources
saved in attempting to design, maintain and refine a process for
waiver of PSL §23(1).
The bill would be effective immediately upon enactment.