senate Bill S602

2013-2014 Legislative Session

Requires that at least one commissioner of the public service commission have experience in utility consumer advocacy

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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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Assembly Actions - Lowercase
Senate Actions - UPPERCASE
Jan 08, 2014 referred to energy and telecommunications
Jan 09, 2013 referred to energy and telecommunications

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S602 - Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A2122
Current Committee:
Law Section:
Public Service Law
Laws Affected:
Amd §4, Pub Serv L
Versions Introduced in Previous Legislative Sessions:
2011-2012: S2517, A4905
2009-2010: A8406

S602 - Bill Texts

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Requires that at least one commissioner of the public service commission have experience in utility consumer advocacy.

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BILL NUMBER:S602

TITLE OF BILL:
An act
to amend the public service law, in relation to requiring at least one
commissioner of the public service commission to have experience in
utility consumer advocacy

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
By requiring that at least one member of the Public Service Commission
must be an experienced consumer advocate, this bill will help restore
the effectiveness of that body in ensuring that public utilities
operate in the best interest of the public.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Bill §1 amends subdivision 1 of § 4 of the Public Service to add a
requirement that at least one commissioner of the Public Service
Commission (PSC) must have experience in utility consumer advocacy.

EFFECTS OF PRESENT LAW WHICH THIS BILL WOULD ALTER:
Other than provisions for political party balance, there are currently
no statutory standards for appointments to the PSC. This stands in
marked contrast to statutes in many other states, which provide
various mechanisms for determining qualifications for utility
regulators -- including requirements in two of our neighboring states
that at least one commissioner must have experience in consumer
protection and advocacy.

JUSTIFICATION:
The Public Service Commission is responsible for overseeing the
operations of "public utilities" -- providers of energy,
telecommunications and cable services that provide essential services
through the use of public rights-of-way and similar common resources.
It has long been recognized that, as was stated by then-Governor
Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, the PSC is not a "mere arbitrator" but
acts "as agent of the public" in seeing that utilities "do two
things: first, give people adequate service; second, charge
reasonable rates...."

In recent years, many people believe that the PSC has strayed from its
core mission of ensuring consumers receive adequate service at
reasonable rates. To rectify this situation, this legislation would
require that at least one PSC commissioner must have experience in
advocating for the interests of
utility consumers. This provision is already in force in the State of
Connecticut (C.O.S. 516-2). Another of our neighbors, Massachusetts,
similarly requires that one of its commissioners must have a
background and experience in consumer protection and advocacy issues
(Mass. Gen. Laws title 25, 52).

Placing a dedicated consumer representative on the PSC will help
ensure that the interests of working families, small businesses and
other rate payers are not subordinated to the interests of public
utilities and other commercial interests that are already
well-represented in PSC proceedings.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:


2012: Senate Bill
2517 (Gianaris) - Died in Senate Rules Committee
2012: Assembly Bill
4905 (Simotas) - Died in Assembly Economic
Development Committee
2010: Assembly Bill
8406 (Gianaris) - Died in Assembly Economic
Development Committee

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS:
None.

EFFECTIVE DATE:
Thirtieth day after becoming law, and will apply to any appointments
to the PSC made on or after such date.

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

                                   602

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                               (PREFILED)

                             January 9, 2013
                               ___________

Introduced  by Sen. GIANARIS -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
  printed to be committed to the Committee on  Energy  and  Telecommuni-
  cations

AN  ACT  to  amend  the  public service law, in relation to requiring at
  least one commissioner of the public service commission to have  expe-
  rience in utility consumer advocacy

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

  Section 1. Subdivision 1 of section 4 of the public  service  law,  as
amended  by  chapter  155  of  the  laws  of 1970, is amended to read as
follows:
  1. There shall be in the department of public service a public service
commission, which shall possess the powers and duties hereinafter speci-
fied, and also all powers necessary or proper to enable it to carry  out
the  purposes  of  this  chapter.  The  commission shall consist of five
members, to be appointed by the governor, by and  with  the  advice  and
consent of the senate. A commissioner shall be designated as chairman of
the commission by the governor to serve in such capacity at the pleasure
of  the  governor  or  until  his term as commissioner expires whichever
first occurs. AT LEAST ONE COMMISSIONER SHALL HAVE EXPERIENCE IN UTILITY
CONSUMER ADVOCACY. No more than three commissioners may  be  members  of
the same political party unless, pursuant to action taken under subdivi-
sion  two,  the  number  of commissioners shall exceed five, and in such
event no more than four commissioners may be members of the  same  poli-
tical party.
  S  2.  This  act shall take effect on the thirtieth day after it shall
have become a law and shall apply to appointments made on or after  such
date.

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD01537-01-3

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