Bill Text: NY A03184 | 2021-2022 | General Assembly | Introduced


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

Spectrum: Strong Partisan Bill (Democrat 35-3)

Status: (Introduced) 2021-01-22 - referred to consumer affairs and protection [A03184 Detail]

Download: New_York-2021-A03184-Introduced.html



                STATE OF NEW YORK
        ________________________________________________________________________

                                          3184

                               2021-2022 Regular Sessions

                   IN ASSEMBLY

                                    January 22, 2021
                                       ___________

        Introduced  by  M.  of  A.  DINOWITZ, PEOPLES-STOKES, PAULIN, GOTTFRIED,
          L. ROSENTHAL, ZEBROWSKI,  WEPRIN,  GALEF,  CAHILL,  COLTON,  ABINANTI,
          HEVESI,  COOK,  STIRPE,  STECK, LUPARDO, GUNTHER, PERRY, SANTABARBARA,
          JEAN-PIERRE, JOYNER, FAHY, OTIS, HUNTER, BARRETT,  SEAWRIGHT,  LAVINE,
          TAYLOR,  RA,  MONTESANO, SMITH, ENGLEBRIGHT, SIMON, GRIFFIN, BENEDETTO
          -- Multi-Sponsored by -- M. of A. GLICK,  J. RIVERA,  THIELE  --  read
          once and referred to the Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection

        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:

     1    Section  1.  The public service law is amended by adding a new article
     2  1-A to read as follows:
     3                                 ARTICLE 1-A
     4              THE STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE
     5  Section 28-a. Definitions.
     6          28-b. Establishment of the state office of the utility  consumer
     7                  advocate.
     8          28-c. Powers  of  the state office of the utility consumer advo-
     9                  cate.
    10          28-d. Reports.
    11    § 28-a. Definitions. When used in  this  article:    (a)  "Department"
    12  means the department of public service.
    13    (b) "Commission" means the public service commission.
    14    (c)  "Residential  utility  customer"  means any person who is sold or
    15  offered for sale residential utility service by a utility company.
    16    (d) "Utility company" means any person or entity operating  an  agency
    17  for  public  service,  including,  but  not limited to, those persons or
    18  entities  subject  to  the  jurisdiction,  supervision  and  regulations
    19  prescribed by or pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.

         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                   LBD05754-01-1

        A. 3184                             2

     1    §  28-b.  Establishment  of  the  state office of the utility consumer
     2  advocate. There is established the state office of the utility  consumer
     3  advocate  to  represent  the interests of residential utility customers.
     4  The utility consumer advocate shall be appointed by the  governor  to  a
     5  term of six years, upon the advice and consent of the senate. The utili-
     6  ty  consumer  advocate shall possess knowledge and experience in matters
     7  affecting residential utility customers and shall be responsible for the
     8  direction, control, and operation of the state  office  of  the  utility
     9  consumer  advocate,  including  its  hiring  of  staff  and retention of
    10  experts for analysis and testimony in proceedings. The utility  consumer
    11  advocate  shall  not be removed for cause, but may be removed only after
    12  notice and opportunity to be heard, and only for  permanent  disability,
    13  malfeasance, a felony, or conduct involving moral turpitude. Exercise of
    14  independent  judgment  in  advocating positions on behalf of residential
    15  utility customers shall not constitute cause for removal of the  utility
    16  consumer advocate.
    17    §  28-c.  Powers of the state office of the utility consumer advocate.
    18  The state office of the utility consumer advocate shall have  the  power
    19  and  duty  to:  (a)  initiate, intervene in, or participate on behalf of
    20  residential utility customers in any proceedings before the  commission,
    21  the  federal  energy  regulatory  commission, the federal communications
    22  commission, federal, state and local administrative and regulatory agen-
    23  cies, and state and federal courts in any matter or proceeding that  may
    24  substantially  affect  the  interests  of residential utility customers,
    25  including, but not limited to, a  proposed  change  of  rates,  charges,
    26  terms  and  conditions  of  service, the adoption of rules, regulations,
    27  guidelines, orders, standards or final policy decisions where the utili-
    28  ty consumer advocate deems  such  initiation,  intervention  or  partic-
    29  ipation to be necessary or appropriate;
    30    (b)  represent  the  interests of residential utility customers of the
    31  state before federal, state  and  local  administrative  and  regulatory
    32  agencies engaged in the regulation of energy, telecommunications, water,
    33  and  other  utility  services,  and  before  state and federal courts in
    34  actions and proceedings to review the actions of utilities or orders  of
    35  utility  regulatory  agencies.  Any  action or proceeding brought by the
    36  utility consumer advocate before a court or an agency shall  be  brought
    37  in  the  name  of the state office of the utility consumer advocate. The
    38  utility consumer advocate may join with a residential  utility  customer
    39  or group of residential utility customers in bringing an action;
    40    (c)  (i) in addition to any other authority conferred upon the utility
    41  consumer advocate, he or she is authorized, and it shall be his  or  her
    42  duty  to  represent  the interests of residential utility customers as a
    43  party, or otherwise participate for  the  purpose  of  representing  the
    44  interests of such customers before any agencies or courts. He or she may
    45  initiate proceedings if in his or her judgment doing so may be necessary
    46  in  connection  with  any  matter involving the actions or regulation of
    47  public utility companies whether on appeal or otherwise  initiated.  The
    48  utility  consumer advocate may monitor all cases before regulatory agen-
    49  cies in the United States, including the federal communications  commis-
    50  sion and the federal energy regulatory commission that affect the inter-
    51  ests  of  residential  utility  customers  of the state and may formally
    52  participate in those proceedings which in his or her  judgment  warrants
    53  such participation.
    54    (ii) the utility consumer advocate shall exercise his or her independ-
    55  ent  discretion  in  determining  the  interests  of residential utility
    56  customers that will be advocated  in  any  proceeding,  and  determining

        A. 3184                             3

     1  whether  to  participate in or initiate any proceeding and, in so deter-
     2  mining, shall consider the public interest, the resources available, and
     3  the substantiality of the effect of the proceeding on  the  interest  of
     4  residential utility customers;
     5    (d)  request  and  receive  from any state or local authority, agency,
     6  department or division  of  the  state  or  political  subdivision  such
     7  assistance,  personnel, information, books, records, other documentation
     8  and cooperation necessary to perform its duties; and
     9    (e) enter into cooperative agreements with other government offices to
    10  efficiently carry out its work.
    11    § 28-d. Reports. On July first, two thousand twenty-two  and  annually
    12  thereafter,  the  state  office  of  the utility consumer advocate shall
    13  issue a report to the governor and the legislature, and make such report
    14  available to the public free of charge on a publicly available  website,
    15  containing, but not limited to, the following information:
    16    (a)  all  proceedings  that  the  state office of the utility consumer
    17  advocate participated in and the outcome of  such  proceedings,  to  the
    18  extent of such outcome and if not confidential;
    19    (b)  estimated  savings to residential utility consumers that resulted
    20  from intervention by the state office of the utility consumer  advocate;
    21  and
    22    (c) policy recommendations and suggested statutory amendments that the
    23  state office of the utility consumer advocate deems necessary.
    24    §  2. This act shall take effect on the first of April next succeeding
    25  the date on which it shall have become a law.
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