senate Bill S4550B

2013-2014 Legislative Session

Creates the state office of the utility consumer advocate

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Sponsored By

Archive: Last Bill Status - In Committee


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor

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Actions

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Assembly Actions - Lowercase
Senate Actions - UPPERCASE
Apr 11, 2014 print number 4550b
amend (t) and recommit to finance
Feb 14, 2014 print number 4550a
amend and recommit to finance
Jan 08, 2014 referred to finance
Apr 10, 2013 referred to finance

Bill Amendments

Original
A
B (Active)
Original
A
B (Active)

Co-Sponsors

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S4550 - Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A6239B
Current Committee:
Law Section:
Public Service Law
Laws Affected:
Add Art 1-A §§28-a - 28-d, Pub Serv L

S4550 - Bill Texts

view summary

Creates the state office of the utility consumer advocate to represent interests of residential utility customers.

view sponsor memo
BILL NUMBER:S4550

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the executive law and the public
service law, in relation to creating the state office of the utility
consumer advocate

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:

This bill would create the State Office of the Utility Consumer
Advocate.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Section 1 amends subdivision 2 of section 94-a of the executive law by
adding a new paragraph d which would require the Secretary of State to
provide an estimate to the Department of Public Service prior to the
start of each fiscal year, for the funds necessary to operate the
State Office of the Utility Consumer Advocate.

Section 2 amends paragraph a of subdivision 4 of section 94-a of the
executive law and provides for the creation of the State Office of the
Utility Consumer Advocate who is charged with representing the
interests of residential utility customers. This section sets the
appointment process, term of the appointment, and general duties for
the Utility Consumer Advocate.

Section 3 amends subparagraph i and ii of paragraph b of subdivision 4
of section 94-a of the executive law and outlines the instances in
which the Utility Consumer Advocate may intervene and/or bring actions
on behalf of residential utility customers

Section 4 amends subdivision 4 of section 94-a of the executive law by
adding a new paragraph c that further outlines the Utility Consumer
Advocate's authority and duties.

Section 5 amends paragraph a of subdivision 2 of section 18-a of the
public service law to require the Chairman of the Public Services
Commission to include the cost estimate provided in paragraph d of
subdivision two of section 94-a of the executive law with the total
assessment to be paid by each assessed public utility company.

Section 6 sets the effective date.

JUSTIFICATION:

Currently more than 40 states and the District of Columbia have an
independent state agency that represents the interests of residential
utility customers, New York is one of few states, and by far the
largest, without such an independent office. In the wake of Superstorm
Sandy, Hurricane Irene, and Tropical Storm Lee, consumers in New York
have been left without a voice and real representation when it comes
to utility services.

This bill would create the State Office of the Utility Consumer
Advocate to serve as an independent advocate and appear on behalf of
New York consumers in state and federal regulatory proceedings, as
well as judicial review proceedings concerning rates and conditions of


public service utilities. Currently consumers in New York are
represented by the Public Service Commission as well as the Utility
Intervention Unit, a division of the Department of State Neither of
them is able to act solely on behalf of the interest of consumers.

The Public Service Commission mediates the competing interests of
utilities and others in their proceedings to develop facts upon which
their decisions are ultimately based The utility providers as well as
large commercial and industrial customers have an active and able
presence in such proceedings; however there is a glaring lack of input
from any parties representing consumers. The Utility Intervention Unit
operates under the direction of the Secretary of the State, who has
created a non-statutory subordinate at-will position for the Director
of the Utility Intervention Unit. The Utility Consumer Advocate would
be appointed by the Governor, subject to Senate confirmation, and
would serve a term of six years similar to the Chairman of the Public
Service Commission. Therefore the Utility Consumer Advocate would not
be an at-will employee subject to removal without cause by the
Secretary of State or Governor.. This would allow for actual
independent action on behalf of residential consumers without the
concern of removal for such action.

In other states where such an office exists residential consumers have
seen drastic savings in comparison to the actual amount of funding
that goes to these offices. California's Division of Ratepayer
Advocates lobbied over 200 times on behalf of California consumers and
saved them over $4 billion in rates saved and increases avoided; in
fact, they estimate that for every $1 spent representing and
advocating on behalf of California's public utility customers, the
average customer saved $153 per year. The creation of an appointed
advocate with the powers allotted in this bill would give New York
utility customers a voice at the table, save them a considerable
amount of money when it comes to the utilities they use every day.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:

This is a New Bill

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:

None to the State.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

This act shall take effect of the first of April next succeeding the
date on which it shall have become law.

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                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                  4550

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                             April 10, 2013
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sen.  SAVINO -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
  printed to be committed to the Committee on Finance

AN ACT to amend the  executive  law  and  the  public  service  law,  in
  relation to creating the state office of the utility consumer advocate

  THE  PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section 1. Subdivision 2 of section  94-a  of  the  executive  law  is
amended by adding a new paragraph (d) to read as follows:
  (D)  THE  SECRETARY,  UPON  ADVICE  OF THE STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY
CONSUMER ADVOCATE, SHALL PROVIDE TO THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SERVICE  AN
ESTIMATE  PRIOR  TO THE START OF EACH FISCAL YEAR OF THE TOTAL COSTS AND
EXPENSES, EXCEPT ANY FUNDS APPROPRIATED  FOR  THE  UTILITY  INTERVENTION
UNIT, INCLUDING THE COMPENSATION AND EXPENSES OF THE STATE OFFICE OF THE
UTILITY  CONSUMER  ADVOCATE,  ITS  OFFICERS,  AGENTS  AND EMPLOYEES, AND
INCLUDING THE COST OF RETIREMENT CONTRIBUTIONS, SOCIAL SECURITY,  HEALTH
AND  DENTAL INSURANCE, SURVIVOR'S BENEFITS, WORKERS' COMPENSATION, UNEM-
PLOYMENT INSURANCE AND OTHER FRINGE BENEFITS REQUIRED TO BE PAID BY  THE
STATE  FOR  THE  PERSONNEL  OF  THE STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER
ADVOCATE, AND INCLUDING ALL OTHER ITEMS  OF  MAINTENANCE  AND  OPERATION
EXPENSES, AND ALL OTHER DIRECT AND INDIRECT COSTS.
  S  2.  Paragraph (a) of subdivision 4 of section 94-a of the executive
law, as added by section 21 of part A of chapter 62 of the laws of 2011,
is amended to read as follows:
  (a) There is established within the division a  state  utility  inter-
vention  unit  AND  THE STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE TO
REPRESENT THE INTERESTS OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY  CUSTOMERS.  THE  UTILITY
CONSUMER  ADVOCATE,  WHO  SHALL  HEAD  THE  STATE  OFFICE OF THE UTILITY
CONSUMER ADVOCATE, SHALL BE APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR TO A TERM  OF  SIX
YEARS,  SUBJECT  TO  SENATE  CONFIRMATION. THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE
SHALL POSSESS KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE IN MATTERS AFFECTING  RESIDENTIAL
UTILITY  CUSTOMERS, SHALL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DIRECTION, CONTROL, AND

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD09713-02-3

S. 4550                             2

OPERATION OF THE UTILITY INTERVENTION  UNIT,  INCLUDING  ITS  HIRING  OF
STAFF   AND   RETENTION   OF  EXPERTS  FOR  ANALYSIS  AND  TESTIMONY  IN
PROCEEDINGS. THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE SHALL NOT BE  REMOVED  EXCEPT
FOR  CAUSE.  EXERCISE OF INDEPENDENT JUDGMENT IN ADVOCATING POSITIONS ON
BEHALF OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS SHALL NOT CONSTITUTE  CAUSE  FOR
REMOVAL OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE.
  S  3.  Subparagraphs (i) and (ii) of paragraph (b) of subdivision 4 of
section 94-a of the executive law, as amended by chapter 8 of  the  laws
of 2012, are amended to read as follows:
  (i)  [on  behalf of the secretary,] initiate, intervene in, or partic-
ipate ON BEHALF OF RESIDENTIAL  UTILITY  CUSTOMERS  in  any  proceedings
before  the  public  service  commission,  [to  the extent authorized by
sections twenty-four-a, seventy-one, eighty-four or  ninety-six  of  the
public service law or any other applicable provision of law,] THE FEDER-
AL  ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION, THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION,
FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL ADMINISTRATIVE  AND  REGULATORY  AGENCIES,  AND
STATE  AND  FEDERAL COURTS IN ANY MATTER OR PROCEEDING THAT MAY SUBSTAN-
TIALLY AFFECT THE INTERESTS OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS, INCLUDING,
BUT NOT LIMITED TO, A PROPOSED  CHANGE  OF  RATES,  CHARGES,  TERMS  AND
CONDITIONS  OF  SERVICE, THE ADOPTION OF RULES, REGULATIONS, GUIDELINES,
ORDERS, STANDARDS OR FINAL POLICY DECISIONS where [he or she] THE UTILI-
TY CONSUMER ADVOCATE deems  such  initiation,  intervention  or  partic-
ipation to be necessary or appropriate;
  (ii)  represent  the  interests  of  [consumers]  RESIDENTIAL  UTILITY
CUSTOMERS of the state before federal, state  and  local  administrative
and  regulatory agencies engaged in the regulation of energy, TELECOMMU-
NICATIONS, WATER AND OTHER UTILITY services, AND BEFORE STATE AND FEDER-
AL COURTS IN ACTIONS AND PROCEEDINGS TO REVIEW THE ACTIONS OF  UTILITIES
OR  ORDERS  OF  UTILITY  REGULATORY  AGENCIES.  ANY ACTION OR PROCEEDING
BROUGHT BY THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE BEFORE A  COURT  OR  AN  AGENCY
SHALL BE BROUGHT IN THE NAME OF THE STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER
ADVOCATE.  THE  UTILITY  CONSUMER  ADVOCATE  MAY JOIN WITH A RESIDENTIAL
UTILITY CUSTOMER OR GROUP OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS  IN  BRINGING
AN ACTION; and
  S  4. Subdivision 4 of section 94-a of the executive law is amended by
adding a new paragraph (c) to read as follows:
  (C) (I) IN ADDITION TO ANY OTHER AUTHORITY CONFERRED UPON THE  UTILITY
CONSUMER  ADVOCATE,  HE OR SHE IS AUTHORIZED, AND IT SHALL BE HIS OR HER
DUTY TO REPRESENT THE INTERESTS OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY  CUSTOMERS  AS  A
PARTY,  OR  OTHERWISE  PARTICIPATE  FOR  THE PURPOSE OF REPRESENTING THE
INTERESTS OF SUCH CUSTOMERS BEFORE ANY AGENCIES OR COURTS. HE OR SHE MAY
INITIATE PROCEEDINGS IF IN HIS OR HER JUDGMENT DOING SO MAY BE NECESSARY
IN CONNECTION WITH ANY MATTER INVOLVING THE  ACTIONS  OR  REGULATION  OF
PUBLIC  UTILITY  COMPANIES WHETHER ON APPEAL OR OTHERWISE INITIATED. THE
UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE MAY MONITOR ALL CASES BEFORE REGULATORY  AGEN-
CIES  IN THE UNITED STATES, INCLUDING THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMIS-
SION AND THE FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION THAT AFFECT THE INTER-
ESTS OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS OF  THE  STATE  AND  MAY  FORMALLY
PARTICIPATE  IN  THOSE PROCEEDINGS WHICH IN HIS OR HER JUDGMENT WARRANTS
SUCH PARTICIPATION.
  (II) THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE SHALL EXERCISE HIS OR HER INDEPEND-
ENT DISCRETION IN  DETERMINING  THE  INTERESTS  OF  RESIDENTIAL  UTILITY
CUSTOMERS THAT WILL BE ADVOCATED IN ANY PROCEEDING AND DETERMINE WHETHER
TO  PARTICIPATE  IN  OR  INITIATE ANY PROCEEDING AND, IN SO DETERMINING,
SHALL CONSIDER THE PUBLIC INTEREST, THE  RESOURCES  AVAILABLE,  AND  THE

S. 4550                             3

SUBSTANTIALITY  OF THE EFFECT OF THE PROCEEDING ON THE INTEREST OF RESI-
DENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS.
  S  5.  Paragraph  (a)  of  subdivision 2 of section 18-a of the public
service law, as amended by section 2 of part NN of  chapter  59  of  the
laws of 2009, is amended to read as follows:
  (a)  The  chairman of the department shall estimate prior to the start
of each state fiscal year the total costs and  expenses,  including  the
compensation  and  expenses  of the commission and the department, their
officers, agents and employees, and including  the  cost  of  retirement
contributions,  social security, health and dental insurance, survivor's
benefits, workers' compensation, unemployment insurance and other fringe
benefits required to be paid by the  state  for  the  personnel  of  the
commission  and the department, and including all other items of mainte-
nance and operation expenses, and all other direct and  indirect  costs.
Based  on  such estimates, the chairman shall determine the amount to be
paid by each assessed  public  utility  company  and  a  bill  shall  be
rendered  to  each  such public utility company.   BASED ON THE ESTIMATE
PROVIDED PURSUANT TO PARAGRAPH (D) OF SUBDIVISION TWO OF  SECTION  NINE-
TY-FOUR-A  OF THE EXECUTIVE LAW, THE CHAIRMAN SHALL DETERMINE THE AMOUNT
TO BE PAID BY EACH ASSESSED PUBLIC UTILITY COMPANY AND A BILL  SHALL  BE
RENDERED TO EACH SUCH PUBLIC UTILITY COMPANY.
  S  6. This act shall take effect on the first of April next succeeding
the date on which it shall have become a law.

Co-Sponsors

view additional co-sponsors

S4550A - Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A6239B
Current Committee:
Law Section:
Public Service Law
Laws Affected:
Add Art 1-A §§28-a - 28-d, Pub Serv L

S4550A - Bill Texts

view summary

Creates the state office of the utility consumer advocate to represent interests of residential utility customers.

view sponsor memo
BILL NUMBER:S4550A

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the executive law and the public
service law, in relation to creating the state office of the utility
consumer advocate

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: This bill would create the State
Office of the Utility Consumer Advocate.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Section 1 amends subdivision 2 of section 94-a of the executive law by
adding a new paragraph d which would require the Secretary of State to
provide an estimate to the Department of Public Service prior to the
start of each fiscal year, for the funds necessary to operate the
State Office of the Utility Consumer Advocate.

Section 2 amends paragraph a of subdivision 4 of section 94-a of the
executive law and provides for the creation of the State Office of the
Utility Consumer Advocate who is charged with representing the
interests of residential utility customers. This section sets the
appointment process, term of the appointment, and general duties for
the Utility Consumer Advocate.

Section 3 amends subparagraph i and ii of paragraph b of subdivision 4
of section 94-a of the executive law and outlines the instances in
which the Utility Consumer Advocate may intervene and/or bring actions
on behalf of residential utility customers.

Section 4 amends subdivision 4 of section 94-a of the executive law by
adding a new paragraph c that further outlines the Utility Consumer
Advocate's authority and duties.

Section 5 amends paragraph a of subdivision 2 of section 18-a of the
public service law to require the Chairman of the Public Services
Commission to include the cost estimate provided in paragraph d of
subdivision two of section 94-a of the executive law with the total
assessment to be paid by each assessed public utility company.

Section 6 sets the effective date.

JUSTIFICATION: Currently more than 40 states and the District of
Columbia have an independent state agency that represents the
interests of residential utility customers. New York is one of few
states, and by far the largest, without such an independent office. In
the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene, and Tropical Storm Lee,
consumers in New York have been left without a voice and real
representation when it comes to utility services.

This bill would create the State Office of the Utility Consumer
Advocate to serve as an independent advocate and appear on behalf of
New York consumers in state and federal regulatory proceedings, as
well as judicial review proceedings concerning rates and conditions of
public service utilities. Currently consumers in New York are
represented by the Public Service Commission as well as the Utility
Intervention Unit, a division of the Department of State. Neither of
them is able to act solely on behalf of the interest of consumers.


The Public Service Commission mediates the competing interests of
utilities and others in their proceedings to develop facts upon which
their decisions are ultimately based. The utility providers as well as
large commercial and industrial customers have an active and able
presence in such proceedings; however there is a glaring lack of input
from any parties representing consumers. The Utility Intervention Unit
operates under the direction of the Secretary of the State, who has
created a non-statutory subordinate at-will position for the Director
of the Utility Intervention Unit. The Utility Consumer Advocate would
be appointed by the Governor, subject to Senate confirmation, and
would serve a term of six years similar to the Chairman of the Public
Service Commission. Therefore the Utility Consumer Advocate would not
be an at-will employee subject to removal without cause by the
Secretary of State or Governor. This would allow for actual
independent action on behalf of residential consumers without the
concern of removal for such action.

In other states where such an office exists residential consumers have
seen drastic savings in comparison to the actual amount of funding
that goes to these offices. California's Division of Ratepayer
Advocates lobbied over 200 times on behalf of California consumers and
saved them over $4 billion in rates saved and increases avoided; in
fact, they estimate that for every $1 spent representing and
advocating on behalf of California's public utility customers, the
average customer saved $153 per year The creation of an appointed
advocate with the powers allotted in this bill would give New York
utility customers a voice at the table, save them a considerable
amount of money when it comes to the utilities they use every day.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: This is a New Bill.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None to the State.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect of the first of April next
succeeding the date on which it shall have become law

view full text
download pdf
                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                 4550--A

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                             April 10, 2013
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sens.  SAVINO,  ADDABBO,  AVELLA,  CARLUCCI,  ESPAILLAT,
  GRISANTI, HANNON, HASSELL-THOMPSON, HOYLMAN, KENNEDY, KLEIN,  KRUEGER,
  LATIMER,  MONTGOMERY,  PARKER,  SAMPSON, SQUADRON, TKACZYK, VALESKY --
  read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to  be  committed  to
  the Committee on Finance -- recommitted to the Committee on Finance in
  accordance  with  Senate  Rule 6, sec. 8 -- committee discharged, bill
  amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said  commit-
  tee

AN  ACT  to  amend  the  executive  law  and  the public service law, in
  relation to creating the state office of the utility consumer advocate

  THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND  ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section  1.  Subdivision  2  of  section  94-a of the executive law is
amended by adding a new paragraph (d) to read as follows:
  (D) THE SECRETARY, UPON ADVICE OF THE  STATE  OFFICE  OF  THE  UTILITY
CONSUMER  ADVOCATE, SHALL PROVIDE TO THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SERVICE AN
ESTIMATE PRIOR TO THE START OF EACH FISCAL YEAR OF THE TOTAL  COSTS  AND
EXPENSES,  EXCEPT  ANY  FUNDS  APPROPRIATED FOR THE UTILITY INTERVENTION
UNIT, INCLUDING THE COMPENSATION AND EXPENSES OF THE STATE OFFICE OF THE
UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE,  ITS  OFFICERS,  AGENTS  AND  EMPLOYEES,  AND
INCLUDING  THE COST OF RETIREMENT CONTRIBUTIONS, SOCIAL SECURITY, HEALTH
AND DENTAL INSURANCE, SURVIVOR'S BENEFITS, WORKERS' COMPENSATION,  UNEM-
PLOYMENT  INSURANCE AND OTHER FRINGE BENEFITS REQUIRED TO BE PAID BY THE
STATE FOR THE PERSONNEL OF THE STATE  OFFICE  OF  THE  UTILITY  CONSUMER
ADVOCATE,  AND  INCLUDING  ALL  OTHER ITEMS OF MAINTENANCE AND OPERATION
EXPENSES, AND ALL OTHER DIRECT AND INDIRECT COSTS.
  S 2. Paragraph (a) of subdivision 4 of section 94-a of  the  executive
law, as added by section 21 of part A of chapter 62 of the laws of 2011,
is amended to read as follows:
  (a)  There  is  established within the division a state utility inter-
vention unit AND THE STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY  CONSUMER  ADVOCATE  TO

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD09713-06-4

S. 4550--A                          2

REPRESENT  THE  INTERESTS  OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS. THE UTILITY
CONSUMER ADVOCATE, WHO SHALL  HEAD  THE  STATE  OFFICE  OF  THE  UTILITY
CONSUMER  ADVOCATE,  SHALL BE APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR TO A TERM OF SIX
YEARS,  SUBJECT  TO  SENATE  CONFIRMATION. THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE
SHALL POSSESS KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE IN MATTERS AFFECTING  RESIDENTIAL
UTILITY  CUSTOMERS, SHALL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DIRECTION, CONTROL, AND
OPERATION OF THE UTILITY INTERVENTION  UNIT,  INCLUDING  ITS  HIRING  OF
STAFF   AND   RETENTION   OF  EXPERTS  FOR  ANALYSIS  AND  TESTIMONY  IN
PROCEEDINGS. THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE SHALL NOT BE  REMOVED  EXCEPT
FOR  CAUSE.  EXERCISE OF INDEPENDENT JUDGMENT IN ADVOCATING POSITIONS ON
BEHALF OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS SHALL NOT CONSTITUTE  CAUSE  FOR
REMOVAL OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE.
  S  3.  Subparagraphs (i) and (ii) of paragraph (b) of subdivision 4 of
section 94-a of the executive law, as amended by section 12 of part A of
chapter 173 of the laws of 2013, are amended to read as follows:
  (i) [on behalf of the secretary,] initiate, intervene in,  or  partic-
ipate  ON  BEHALF  OF  RESIDENTIAL  UTILITY CUSTOMERS in any proceedings
before the  public  service  commission  or  the  department  of  public
service, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED to the extent authorized by sections
three-b,  twenty-four-a,  seventy-one,  eighty-four or ninety-six of the
public service law or any other applicable provision of law, THE FEDERAL
ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION,  THE  FEDERAL  COMMUNICATIONS  COMMISSION,
FEDERAL,  STATE  AND  LOCAL  ADMINISTRATIVE AND REGULATORY AGENCIES, AND
STATE AND FEDERAL COURTS IN ANY MATTER OR PROCEEDING THAT  MAY  SUBSTAN-
TIALLY AFFECT THE INTERESTS OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS, INCLUDING,
BUT  NOT  LIMITED  TO,  A  PROPOSED  CHANGE OF RATES, CHARGES, TERMS AND
CONDITIONS OF SERVICE, THE ADOPTION OF RULES,  REGULATIONS,  GUIDELINES,
ORDERS, STANDARDS OR FINAL POLICY DECISIONS where [he or she] THE UTILI-
TY  CONSUMER  ADVOCATE  deems  such  initiation, intervention or partic-
ipation to be necessary or appropriate;
  (ii)  represent  the  interests  of  [consumers]  RESIDENTIAL  UTILITY
CUSTOMERS  of  the  state before federal, state and local administrative
and regulatory agencies engaged in the regulation of energy  [services],
TELECOMMUNICATIONS,  WATER  AND OTHER UTILITY SERVICES, AND BEFORE STATE
AND FEDERAL COURTS IN ACTIONS AND PROCEEDINGS TO REVIEW THE  ACTIONS  OF
UTILITIES  OR  ORDERS  OF  UTILITY  REGULATORY  AGENCIES.  ANY ACTION OR
PROCEEDING BROUGHT BY THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE BEFORE A COURT OR AN
AGENCY SHALL BE BROUGHT IN THE NAME OF THE STATE OFFICE OF  THE  UTILITY
CONSUMER  ADVOCATE.  THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE MAY JOIN WITH A RESI-
DENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMER OR GROUP OF RESIDENTIAL  UTILITY  CUSTOMERS  IN
BRINGING AN ACTION;
  S  4. Subdivision 4 of section 94-a of the executive law is amended by
adding a new paragraph (c) to read as follows:
  (C) (I) IN ADDITION TO ANY OTHER AUTHORITY CONFERRED UPON THE  UTILITY
CONSUMER  ADVOCATE,  HE OR SHE IS AUTHORIZED, AND IT SHALL BE HIS OR HER
DUTY TO REPRESENT THE INTERESTS OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY  CUSTOMERS  AS  A
PARTY,  OR  OTHERWISE  PARTICIPATE  FOR  THE PURPOSE OF REPRESENTING THE
INTERESTS OF SUCH CUSTOMERS BEFORE ANY AGENCIES OR COURTS. HE OR SHE MAY
INITIATE PROCEEDINGS IF IN HIS OR HER JUDGMENT DOING SO MAY BE NECESSARY
IN CONNECTION WITH ANY MATTER INVOLVING THE  ACTIONS  OR  REGULATION  OF
PUBLIC  UTILITY  COMPANIES WHETHER ON APPEAL OR OTHERWISE INITIATED. THE
UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE MAY MONITOR ALL CASES BEFORE REGULATORY  AGEN-
CIES  IN THE UNITED STATES, INCLUDING THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMIS-
SION AND THE FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION THAT AFFECT THE INTER-
ESTS OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS OF  THE  STATE  AND  MAY  FORMALLY

S. 4550--A                          3

PARTICIPATE  IN  THOSE PROCEEDINGS WHICH IN HIS OR HER JUDGMENT WARRANTS
SUCH PARTICIPATION.
  (II) THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE SHALL EXERCISE HIS OR HER INDEPEND-
ENT  DISCRETION  IN  DETERMINING  THE  INTERESTS  OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY
CUSTOMERS THAT WILL BE ADVOCATED IN ANY PROCEEDING AND DETERMINE WHETHER
TO PARTICIPATE IN OR INITIATE ANY PROCEEDING  AND,  IN  SO  DETERMINING,
SHALL  CONSIDER  THE  PUBLIC  INTEREST, THE RESOURCES AVAILABLE, AND THE
SUBSTANTIALITY OF THE EFFECT OF THE PROCEEDING ON THE INTEREST OF  RESI-
DENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS.
  S  5.  Paragraph  (a)  of  subdivision 2 of section 18-a of the public
service law, as amended by section 2 of part A of  chapter  173  of  the
laws of 2013, is amended to read as follows:
  (a)  The  chairman of the department shall estimate prior to the start
of each state fiscal year the total costs and  expenses,  including  the
compensation  and  expenses  of the commission and the department, their
officers, agents and employees, and including  the  cost  of  retirement
contributions,  social security, health and dental insurance, survivor's
benefits, workers' compensation, unemployment insurance and other fringe
benefits required to be paid by the  state  for  the  personnel  of  the
commission  and the department, and including all other items of mainte-
nance and operation expenses, and all other direct and  indirect  costs.
Based  on  such estimates, the chairman shall determine the amount to be
paid by each assessed public utility company and the Long  Island  power
authority  and  a  bill  shall  be  rendered to each such public utility
company and authority. BASED ON THE ESTIMATE PROVIDED PURSUANT TO  PARA-
GRAPH  (D)  OF SUBDIVISION TWO OF SECTION NINETY-FOUR-A OF THE EXECUTIVE
LAW, THE CHAIRMAN SHALL DETERMINE THE AMOUNT TO BE PAID BY EACH ASSESSED
PUBLIC UTILITY COMPANY AND THE LONG ISLAND POWER AUTHORITY  AND  A  BILL
SHALL BE RENDERED TO EACH SUCH PUBLIC UTILITY COMPANY.
  S  6.  This  act  shall take effect on April 1, 2015; provided however
that if section 12 of part A of chapter 173 of the laws  of  2013  shall
not  have taken effect on or before such date then section three of this
act shall take effect on the same date and in the same  manner  as  such
chapter of the laws of 2013 takes effect.

Co-Sponsors

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S4550B (ACTIVE) - Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A6239B
Current Committee:
Law Section:
Public Service Law
Laws Affected:
Add Art 1-A §§28-a - 28-d, Pub Serv L

S4550B (ACTIVE) - Bill Texts

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Creates the state office of the utility consumer advocate to represent interests of residential utility customers.

view sponsor memo
BILL NUMBER:S4550B

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public service law, in relation to
creating the state office of the utility consumer advocate

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:

This bill would create the State Office of the Utility Consumer
Advocate(UCA).

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Section 1 amends the public service law by adding a new article 1-A
that would establish the state Office of the Utility Consumer
Advocate. The UCA will be appointed by the governor to a six year
term. The section also outlines the qualifications required for such
an appointee and his or her responsibilities as the UCA, including the
operation of the office.

The powers of the office, include initiating, intervening, and
participating on behalf of residential utility consumers in any
proceedings before the Public Service Commission, the Federal
Regulatory Energy Commission, the Federal Communications Commission,
state and local administrative and regulatory agencies, and state and
federal courts in any matter or proceeding that may substantially
affect the interests of residential utility customers. The section
also allows for the UCA to exercise and have independence in any and
all actions of the office.

The new article 1-A also requires an annual report from the office to
the governor and legislature as, which would be made available to the
public, and would that will include information on all proceedings
that the office of the UCA participated in and the outcome of such
proceedings. Additionally,the report shall include estimated savings
to residential utility customers that resulted from intervention by
the UCA, and lastly any policy recommendations and suggested statutory
amendments that the UCA deems necessary.

Section 2 sets the effective date of the first of April next
succeeding the date on which it shall have become law.

JUSTIFICATION:

Currently more than 40 states and the District of Columbia have an
independent state agency that represents the interests of residential
utility customers. New York is one of few states, and by far the
largest, without such an independent office. In the wake of
Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene, and Tropical Storm Lee, consumers
in New York have been left without a voice and real representation
when it comes to utility services.

This bill would create the State Office of the Utility Consumer
Advocate as an independent advocate and appear on behalf of New York
consumers in state and federal regulatory proceedings, as well as
judicial review proceedings concerning rates and conditions of public
service utilities. Currently consumers in New York are represented by
the Public Service Commission as well as the Utility Intervention


Unit, a division solely of the Department of State. Neither of them is
able to act solely on behalf of the interest of consumers.

The Public Service Commission mediates the competing interests of
utili- ties and others in their proceedings to develop facts upon
which their decisions are ultimately based. The utility providers as
well as large commercial and industrial customers have an active and
able presence in such proceedings; however there is a glaring lack of
input from any parties representing consumers. The Utility
Intervention Unit operates under the direction of the Secretary of the
State, who has created a non-statutory subordinate at-will position
for the Director of the Utility Intervention Unit. The Utility
Consumer Advocate would be appointed by the Governor, subject to
Senate confirmation, and would serve a term of six years similar to
the Chairman of the Public Service Commission.Therefore, the Utility
Consumer Advocate would not be an at-will employee subject to removal
without cause by the Secretary of State or Governor. This would allow
for actual independent action on behalf of residential consumers
without the concern of removal for such action.

In other states where such an office exists residential consumers have
seen drastic savings in comparison to the actual amount of funding
that goes to these offices. California's Division of Ratepayer
Advocates lobbied over 200 times on behalf of California consumers and
saved them over $4 billion in rates saved and increases avoided; in
fact, they estimate that for every $1 spent representing and
advocating on behalf of California's public utility customers, the
average customer saved $153 per year. The creation of an appointed
advocate with the powers allotted in this bill would give New York
utility customers a voice at the table, save them a considerable
amount of money when it comes to the utilities they use every day.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:

This bill was first introduced in the 2013 Session.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:

To be determined

EFFECTIVE DATE:

This act shall take effect of the first of April next succeeding the
date on which it shall have become law.

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                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                 4550--B

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                             April 10, 2013
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sens.  SAVINO,  ADDABBO,  AVELLA,  CARLUCCI,  ESPAILLAT,
  GIPSON, GRISANTI, HANNON, HASSELL-THOMPSON, HOYLMAN,  KENNEDY,  KLEIN,
  KRUEGER,  LATIMER,  MONTGOMERY,  PARKER,  SAMPSON,  SQUADRON, TKACZYK,
  VALESKY -- read twice and ordered printed,  and  when  printed  to  be
  committed  to the Committee on Finance -- recommitted to the Committee
  on Finance in accordance with Senate  Rule  6,  sec.  8  --  committee
  discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted
  to  said  committee  --  committee  discharged,  bill amended, ordered
  reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee

AN ACT to amend the public service law,  in  relation  to  creating  the
  state office of the utility consumer advocate

  THE  PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section 1.  The public service law is amended by adding a new  article
1-A to read as follows:
                               ARTICLE 1-A
            THE STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE
SECTION 28-A. DEFINITIONS.
        28-B. ESTABLISHMENT  OF THE STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER
                ADVOCATE.
        28-C. POWERS OF THE STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY  CONSUMER  ADVO-
                CATE.
        28-D. REPORTS.
  S  28-A.  DEFINITIONS.  WHEN  USED IN THIS ARTICLE:   (A) "DEPARTMENT"
MEANS THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SERVICE.
  (B) "COMMISSION" MEANS THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION.
  (C) "RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMER" MEANS ANY PERSON  WHO  IS  SOLD  OR
OFFERED FOR SALE RESIDENTIAL UTILITY SERVICE BY A UTILITY COMPANY.
  (D)  "UTILITY  COMPANY" MEANS ANY PERSON OR ENTITY OPERATING AN AGENCY
FOR PUBLIC SERVICE, INCLUDING, BUT NOT  LIMITED  TO,  THOSE  PERSONS  OR

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD09713-08-4

S. 4550--B                          2

ENTITIES  SUBJECT  TO  THE  JURISDICTION,  SUPERVISION  AND  REGULATIONS
PRESCRIBED BY OR PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THIS CHAPTER.
  S  28-B.  ESTABLISHMENT  OF  THE  STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER
ADVOCATE. THERE IS ESTABLISHED THE STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY  CONSUMER
ADVOCATE  TO  REPRESENT  THE INTERESTS OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS.
THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE SHALL BE APPOINTED BY THE  GOVERNOR  TO  A
TERM OF SIX YEARS, UPON THE ADVICE AND CONSENT OF THE SENATE. THE UTILI-
TY  CONSUMER  ADVOCATE SHALL POSSESS KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE IN MATTERS
AFFECTING RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS AND SHALL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE
DIRECTION, CONTROL, AND OPERATION OF THE STATE  OFFICE  OF  THE  UTILITY
CONSUMER  ADVOCATE,  INCLUDING  ITS  HIRING  OF  STAFF  AND RETENTION OF
EXPERTS FOR ANALYSIS AND TESTIMONY IN PROCEEDINGS. THE UTILITY  CONSUMER
ADVOCATE  SHALL  NOT BE REMOVED FOR CAUSE, BUT MAY BE REMOVED ONLY AFTER
NOTICE AND OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD, AND ONLY FOR  PERMANENT  DISABILITY,
MALFEASANCE, A FELONY, OR CONDUCT INVOLVING MORAL TURPITUDE. EXERCISE OF
INDEPENDENT  JUDGMENT  IN  ADVOCATING POSITIONS ON BEHALF OF RESIDENTIAL
UTILITY CUSTOMERS SHALL NOT CONSTITUTE CAUSE FOR REMOVAL OF THE  UTILITY
CONSUMER ADVOCATE.
  S  28-C.  POWERS OF THE STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE.
THE STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE SHALL HAVE  THE  POWER
AND  DUTY  TO:  (A)  INITIATE, INTERVENE IN, OR PARTICIPATE ON BEHALF OF
RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS IN ANY PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE  COMMISSION,
THE  FEDERAL  ENERGY  REGULATORY  COMMISSION, THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS
COMMISSION, FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL ADMINISTRATIVE AND REGULATORY AGEN-
CIES, AND STATE AND FEDERAL COURTS IN ANY MATTER OR PROCEEDING THAT  MAY
SUBSTANTIALLY  AFFECT  THE  INTERESTS  OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS,
INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, A  PROPOSED  CHANGE  OF  RATES,  CHARGES,
TERMS  AND  CONDITIONS  OF  SERVICE, THE ADOPTION OF RULES, REGULATIONS,
GUIDELINES, ORDERS, STANDARDS OR FINAL POLICY DECISIONS WHERE THE UTILI-
TY CONSUMER ADVOCATE DEEMS  SUCH  INITIATION,  INTERVENTION  OR  PARTIC-
IPATION TO BE NECESSARY OR APPROPRIATE;
  (B)  REPRESENT  THE  INTERESTS OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS OF THE
STATE BEFORE FEDERAL, STATE  AND  LOCAL  ADMINISTRATIVE  AND  REGULATORY
AGENCIES ENGAGED IN THE REGULATION OF ENERGY, TELECOMMUNICATIONS, WATER,
AND  OTHER  UTILITY  SERVICES,  AND  BEFORE  STATE AND FEDERAL COURTS IN
ACTIONS AND PROCEEDINGS TO REVIEW THE ACTIONS OF UTILITIES OR ORDERS  OF
UTILITY  REGULATORY  AGENCIES.  ANY  ACTION OR PROCEEDING BROUGHT BY THE
UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE BEFORE A COURT OR AN AGENCY SHALL  BE  BROUGHT
IN  THE  NAME  OF THE STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE. THE
UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE MAY JOIN WITH A RESIDENTIAL  UTILITY  CUSTOMER
OR GROUP OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS IN BRINGING AN ACTION;
  (C)  (I) IN ADDITION TO ANY OTHER AUTHORITY CONFERRED UPON THE UTILITY
CONSUMER ADVOCATE, HE OR SHE IS AUTHORIZED, AND IT SHALL BE HIS  OR  HER
DUTY  TO  REPRESENT  THE INTERESTS OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS AS A
PARTY, OR OTHERWISE PARTICIPATE FOR  THE  PURPOSE  OF  REPRESENTING  THE
INTERESTS OF SUCH CUSTOMERS BEFORE ANY AGENCIES OR COURTS. HE OR SHE MAY
INITIATE PROCEEDINGS IF IN HIS OR HER JUDGMENT DOING SO MAY BE NECESSARY
IN  CONNECTION  WITH  ANY  MATTER INVOLVING THE ACTIONS OR REGULATION OF
PUBLIC UTILITY COMPANIES WHETHER ON APPEAL OR OTHERWISE  INITIATED.  THE
UTILITY  CONSUMER ADVOCATE MAY MONITOR ALL CASES BEFORE REGULATORY AGEN-
CIES IN THE UNITED STATES, INCLUDING THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS  COMMIS-
SION AND THE FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION THAT AFFECT THE INTER-
ESTS  OF  RESIDENTIAL  UTILITY  CUSTOMERS  OF THE STATE AND MAY FORMALLY
PARTICIPATE IN THOSE PROCEEDINGS WHICH IN HIS OR HER  JUDGMENT  WARRANTS
SUCH PARTICIPATION.

S. 4550--B                          3

  (II) THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE SHALL EXERCISE HIS OR HER INDEPEND-
ENT  DISCRETION  IN  DETERMINING  THE  INTERESTS  OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY
CUSTOMERS THAT WILL BE ADVOCATED  IN  ANY  PROCEEDING,  AND  DETERMINING
WHETHER  TO  PARTICIPATE IN OR INITIATE ANY PROCEEDING AND, IN SO DETER-
MINING, SHALL CONSIDER THE PUBLIC INTEREST, THE RESOURCES AVAILABLE, AND
THE  SUBSTANTIALITY  OF  THE EFFECT OF THE PROCEEDING ON THE INTEREST OF
RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS;
  (D) REQUEST AND RECEIVE FROM ANY STATE  OR  LOCAL  AUTHORITY,  AGENCY,
DEPARTMENT  OR  DIVISION  OF  THE  STATE  OR  POLITICAL SUBDIVISION SUCH
ASSISTANCE, PERSONNEL, INFORMATION, BOOKS, RECORDS, OTHER  DOCUMENTATION
AND COOPERATION NECESSARY TO PERFORM ITS DUTIES; AND
  (E) ENTER INTO COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS WITH OTHER GOVERNMENT OFFICES TO
EFFICIENTLY CARRY OUT ITS WORK.
  S  28-D.  REPORTS.  ON  JULY  FIRST, TWO THOUSAND FIFTEEN AND ANNUALLY
THEREAFTER, THE STATE OFFICE OF  THE  UTILITY  CONSUMER  ADVOCATE  SHALL
ISSUE A REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR AND THE LEGISLATURE, AND MAKE SUCH REPORT
AVAILABLE  TO THE PUBLIC FREE OF CHARGE ON A PUBLICLY AVAILABLE WEBSITE,
CONTAINING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION:
  (A) ALL PROCEEDINGS THAT THE STATE  OFFICE  OF  THE  UTILITY  CONSUMER
ADVOCATE  PARTICIPATED  IN  AND  THE OUTCOME OF SUCH PROCEEDINGS, TO THE
EXTENT OF SUCH OUTCOME AND IF NOT CONFIDENTIAL;
  (B) ESTIMATED SAVINGS TO RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CONSUMERS  THAT  RESULTED
FROM  INTERVENTION BY THE STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE;
AND
  (C) POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS AND SUGGESTED STATUTORY AMENDMENTS THAT THE
STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE DEEMS NECESSARY.
  S 2. This act shall take effect on the first of April next  succeeding
the date on which it shall have become a law.

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