TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public service law, in relation to
electronic service of orders
Purpose of the Bill:
The bill would conform Public Service Law (PSL) § 23 with State
Technology Law (STL) Article III (Electronic Signatures and Records
Act (ESRA)), thereby reducing costs, increasing efficiency and
expediting public notification by streamlining recordkeeping for
electronic issuance of Orders by the Public Service Commission (PSC or
Summary of Provisions:
Section 1 of the bill would amend PSL § 23(1) to allow Orders issued
by the PSC to be provided by electronic means pursuant to PSC
regulations except that non-electronic service would be provided upon
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 (i)
personal delivery or (ii) mail, in a sealed envelope with prepaid
postage, addressed to persons designated to receive a summons under
the CPLR; electronic service is not authorized.
Prior Legislative History:
2012: A.9856/S.6764 passed the Senate.
Statement in Support:
PSL § 23(1) was enacted in 1910 (Ch. 480), and reflected the need in a
pre-electronic world to provide utility management and other parties
with hard copies of Commission Orders. This bill would allow the
Commission to serve its Orders by electronic mail, reserving to
parties the option to receive hard copies if that is their preference.
Selecting an option establishes no additional burden on a party when
he or she contacts the Commission to indicate a desire to become a
party to a Commission proceeding. Parties can indicate their
preference for service of documents related to the proceeding,
including Commission Orders.
Electronic communication is as reliable as regular mail, and the
limited options set forth in PSL § 23(1) for service of Commission
Orders are inefficient, outdated and expensive. Information can be
transmitted far more quickly and efficiently by electronic means than
by regular mail. Addressees receive the information nearly
instantaneously rather than days later, and electronic service can be
configured to provide for electronic "return receipts" to confirm
delivery. ESRA was accordingly 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
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 reduce the
cost of paper, envelopes, printing and mailing. ESRA provides agencies
broad authority to seek the savings of electronic transmittal and
electronic recordkeeping. However, ESRA implementing regulations, 9
NYCRR § 540.5(e), provide 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 PSL § 23(1)
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.
A nominal amount of nonpersonal 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).
Immediately upon enactment.