Legislation co-sponsored by Addabbo to assist utility customers approved by Senate

The Senate approved two bills co-sponsored by NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., to limit fixed charges on residential utility bills and improve outreach to customers reliant on electricity for their daily medical equipment needs. 

“This legislation will help reduce customer utility bills and improve services for individuals dependent on a reliable power source to operate critical medical equipment during outages,” Addabbo said. “Residents continue to struggle in keeping up with household expenses, including basic utilities, so any measure to help them financially or to protect their health and well-being, is critically important,” added Addabbo. 

The first approved bill, S.931A, requires electric utility providers to include outreach to customers with a documented need for continued electric service to support medical equipment during power outages, as part of their emergency response plan. Currently, an electric company must identify and conduct outreach to customers who have proven their need for electricity to operate medical equipment but there is no definition of what types of devices qualify. This legislation specifies machinery but is not limited to what is listed, and it also takes into account any equipment for individuals who will be significantly impacted by a continued power outage. Tropical Storm Isaias demonstrated that there are significantly more households impacted than those who reported essential needs to their service provider. 

The second bill, S.2837, will limit the fixed charges that residential customers pay on their utility bills. New Yorkers pay some of the highest fixed charges, flat monthly fees passed onto the consumer regardless of the energy they use. In many cases, utility providers are charging New Yorkers three times as much in fixed charges as they are charging residents in nearby states, shifting costs from bigger energy users onto those who can least afford it. High fixed charges mean higher electric bills, resulting in a higher cost of living and individuals having less income to spend on other household expenses. This legislation will direct utility providers to charge residential customers for the costs directly related to usage, billing, service connection, and customer service. 

After passing the Senate, both bills were delivered to the Assembly for consideration.