senate Bill S690

2013-2014 Legislative Session

Directs the public service commission to undertake a study of consumer protections adopted by electric corporations and utilities

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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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Actions

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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

S690 - Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A2708
Current Committee:
Law Section:
Public Services
Versions Introduced in 2011-2012 Legislative Session:
S5696A, A7777A

S690 - Bill Texts

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Directs the public service commission to undertake a study of consumer protections adopted by electric corporations and utilities; includes reporting on the adequacy of the public service commission's assistance to customers facing disconnection of utility service.

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BILL NUMBER:S690

TITLE OF BILL:
An act
to direct the public service commission to undertake a study of consumer
protections adopted by electric corporations and utilities

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
To place a temporary moratorium on electric, gas or steam service
terminations to residential customers, until the Public Service
Commission (PSC) completes a review of existing consumer
protection policies. The review will evaluate the current policies'
effectiveness in addressing consumer issues and protecting consumer
welfare.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
The legislation directs the PSC to complete a report on the
effectiveness of existing consumer protection policies by November
15th, 2012. The report must include analyses on the
following:

1) the effectiveness of current utility procedures for notifying
customers in arrears on utility charges of how they may avoid
termination of their services. This analysis must include an
assessment on the availability of deferred payment agreements;

2) the adequacy of the PSC's assistance to customers, including an
analysis of the
commission's effectiveness in negotiating deferred payment agreements
with utilities. The PSC will also be required to collect and include
in its report certain statistics pertaining to the geographic
locations and assistance statuses of customers seeking to connect
service or avoid termination, and statistics pertaining to the PSC
shutoff hotline;

The PSC must seek comments from utilities, municipalities, consumer
advocates and the public. The PSC may use these comments as bases for
its evaluation on existing consumer protection policies.

The report must be submitted to the governor, temporary president of
the senate, speaker of the assembly, chair of the senate committee on
energy and telecommunications and chair of the assembly committee on
energy by November 15th, 2014. The report must also be posted online.
If the PSC fails to complete its review by the required date,
utilities will be prohibited from terminating electric, gas or steam
service between December 1st, 2014 and March 31st, 2015, or until the
PSC completes its review. The bill would not preclude utilities from
charging customers for electric, gas or steam services during the
moratorium period.

JUSTIFICATION:
Many utilities terminate many consumers' electric, gas or Steam
service during winter months. Terminations during New York's cold
winter months cause significant discomfort to those targeted by the
terminations, and create significant health and safety risks. The
utilities' copious winter terminations suggest that existing consumer


protection policies are inadequate. Until the PSC identifies and
suggests remedies for these inadequacies, New York's consumers remain
vulnerable to potentially unjustified or unreasonable winter service
terminations.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2011-12: S.5696A/A.7777A (Simotas)

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS:
None.

EFFECTIVE DATE:
This act shall take effect immediately.

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

                                   690

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                               (PREFILED)

                             January 9, 2013
                               ___________

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

AN  ACT  to direct the public service commission to undertake a study of
  consumer protections adopted by electric corporations and utilities

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

  Section  1.  The New York State public service commission shall under-
take an immediate study of  consumer  protections  adopted  by  electric
corporations  and  municipalities ("utilities") pursuant to article 2 of
the public service law and provide a report to the governor, the  tempo-
rary  president of the senate, the speaker of the assembly, the chair of
the senate committee on energy and telecommunications and the  chair  of
the  assembly committee on energy. Such report shall include an analysis
of the effectiveness of current utility procedures for notifying custom-
ers in arrears on utility charges of how they may avoid  termination  of
electric,  gas  or steam service, including the availability of deferred
payment agreements. In addition, such report shall review  the  adequacy
of the commission's assistance to customers negotiating deferred payment
agreements  with utilities in lieu of disconnection of service including
the number of deferred payment plans by utility service  territory;  the
number of incidences, if any, in which utilities have required more than
the  lawfully  allowed  level of down payments or deferred payments from
customers seeking to connect service or avoid disconnection; the  effec-
tiveness and availability of the commission's shutoff hotline in receiv-
ing  calls  from customers facing termination of electric, gas and steam
service; the call volume to such hotline in each utility service  terri-
tory;  the  monthly  number  of  electric  and natural gas customers who
previously received utility bill assistance from the Home Energy Assist-
ance Program whose service was terminated for bill  collection  purposes

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD02557-01-3

S. 690                              2

in  each  utility  service  area in the previous calendar year, provided
further that the commission shall  require  each  utility  provide  such
information while maintaining customer confidentiality; and any proposed
legislative  remedies  necessary  to increase customer awareness of such
hotline. The report shall be made available to the public on the commis-
sion's website.
  S 2. The New York State public service commission shall seek  comments
from  utilities,  municipalities,  consumer advocates and the public and
may include in the report recommendations to improve  existing  consumer
protection policies.
  S  3. If the study pursuant to section one of this act is not received
by November 15,  2014,  the  commission  shall  institute  a  moratorium
preventing  utility corporations from terminating electric, gas or steam
service to any residential customer in arrears with whom it has  entered
into  an  agreement  for  the provision of such services. The moratorium
shall last for the period beginning December 1, 2014 and ending on March
31, 2015. Nothing in this act shall be construed to  prevent  a  utility
corporation  from  charging customers for electric, gas or steam service
or from offering a deferred payment agreement for the  period  beginning
December 1, 2014 and ending on March 31, 2015.
  S 4. This act shall take effect immediately.

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