Bill Text: NY A11037 | 2019-2020 | General Assembly | Introduced


Bill Title: Creates the utility consumer advocate of the Long Island office of the department of public service to advocate and to represent the interests of residential Long Island utility customers.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 2-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2020-10-07 - referred to consumer affairs and protection [A11037 Detail]

Download: New_York-2019-A11037-Introduced.html



                STATE OF NEW YORK
        ________________________________________________________________________

                                          11037

                   IN ASSEMBLY

                                     October 7, 2020
                                       ___________

        Introduced  by  COMMITTEE  ON  RULES  --  (at  request  of  M. of A. Ra,
          M. L. Miller) -- 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
          utility consumer advocate of the Long Island office of the  department
          of public service

          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  section
     2  3-c to read as follows:
     3    §  3-c.  Utility  consumer  advocate  of the Long Island office of the
     4  department of public service. 1. Definitions. When used in this section:
     5    (a) "Office" means the Long Island office of the department of  public
     6  service.
     7    (b) "Commission" means the public service commission.
     8    (c)  "Residential  Long Island utility customer" means any resident of
     9  Nassau or Suffolk county who is sold or  offered  for  sale  residential
    10  utility service by a utility company.
    11    (d)  "Utility  company" means any person or entity operating an agency
    12  for public service, including, but not  limited  to,  those  persons  or
    13  entities  subject  to  the  jurisdiction,  supervision  and  regulations
    14  prescribed by or pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.
    15    2. Establishment of the utility consumer advocate of the  Long  Island
    16  office  of  the  department  of public service. There is established the
    17  utility consumer advocate of the Long Island office of the department of
    18  public service to advocate and to represent the interests of residential
    19  Long Island utility customers. The consumer advocate shall be  appointed
    20  by  the  governor to a term of six years, upon the recommendation of the
    21  county executives of Nassau and Suffolk counties and upon the advice and
    22  consent of the senate. The utility consumer advocate shall possess know-
    23  ledge and experience in matters affecting residential Long Island utili-
    24  ty customers and shall be responsible for  the  direction,  control  and
    25  operation  of  the  office  of utility consumer advocate for the office,
    26  including its hiring of staff and retention of experts for analysis  and

         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                   LBD17230-01-0

        A. 11037                            2

     1  testimony  in  proceedings.  The  utility consumer advocate shall not be
     2  removed for cause but may be removed only after notice  and  opportunity
     3  to be heard, and only for permanent disability, malfeasance, a felony or
     4  conduct  involving  moral turpitude. Exercise of independent judgment in
     5  advocating positions  on  behalf  of  residential  Long  Island  utility
     6  customers shall not constitute cause for removal of the utility consumer
     7  advocate.
     8    3.  Powers of the utility consumer advocate for the Long Island office
     9  of the department of public service. The utility consumer  advocate  for
    10  the office shall have the power and duty to:
    11    (a)  initiate,  intervene  in  or participate on behalf of residential
    12  Long Island utility customers in any proceedings before the  commission,
    13  the  federal  energy  regulatory  commission, the federal communications
    14  commission, federal, state and local administrative and regulatory agen-
    15  cies and state and federal courts in any matter or proceeding  that  may
    16  substantially  affect  the  interests of residential Long Island utility
    17  customers, including, but not limited to, a proposed  change  of  rates,
    18  charges,  terms  and  conditions  of service, and the adoption of rules,
    19  regulations, guidelines, orders, standards  or  final  policy  decisions
    20  where  the utility consumer advocate deems such initiation, intervention
    21  or participation to be necessary or appropriate;
    22    (b) represent the interests of residential Long Island utility custom-
    23  ers before federal, state and local administrative and regulatory  agen-
    24  cies  engaged in the regulation of energy, telecommunications, water and
    25  other utility services, and before state and federal courts  in  actions
    26  and  proceedings to review the actions of utilities or orders of utility
    27  regulatory agencies. Any action or proceeding  brought  by  the  utility
    28  consumer  advocate  before  a court or an agency shall be brought in the
    29  name of the utility  consumer  advocate  for  the  office.  The  utility
    30  consumer  advocate  may  join  with  a  residential  Long Island utility
    31  customer or group of residential Long Island utility customers in bring-
    32  ing an action;
    33    (i) in addition to any other  authority  conferred  upon  the  utility
    34  consumer  advocate,  he or she is authorized, and it shall be his or her
    35  duty to represent the  interests  of  residential  Long  Island  utility
    36  customers  as  a  party,  or  otherwise  participate  for the purpose of
    37  representing the interests of such  customers  before  any  agencies  or
    38  courts.  He  or  she  may initiate proceedings if in his or her judgment
    39  doing so may be necessary in connection with any  matter  involving  the
    40  actions  or  regulation of public utility companies whether on appeal or
    41  otherwise initiated. The utility consumer advocate may monitor all cases
    42  before regulatory agencies in the United States, including  the  federal
    43  communications  commission  and the federal energy regulatory commission
    44  that affect the interests of residential Long Island  utility  customers
    45  and  may  formally  participate in those proceedings which in his or her
    46  judgment warrants such participation.
    47    (ii) the utility consumer advocate shall exercise his or her independ-
    48  ent discretion in determining the interests of residential  Long  Island
    49  utility  customers  that will be advocated in any proceeding, and deter-
    50  mining whether to participate in or initiate any proceeding and,  in  so
    51  determining,  shall  consider  the public interest, the resources avail-
    52  able, and the substantiality of the effect  of  the  proceeding  on  the
    53  interest of residential Long Island utility customers;
    54    (c)  request  and  receive  from any state or local authority, agency,
    55  department or division  of  the  state  or  political  subdivision  such

        A. 11037                            3

     1  assistance,  personnel, information, books, records, other documentation
     2  and cooperation necessary to perform his or her duties;
     3    (d) enter into cooperative agreements with other government offices to
     4  efficiently carry out his or her work;
     5    (e)  review and make recommendations to the office with respect to the
     6  rates and charges, including charges related to  energy  efficiency  and
     7  renewable energy programs;
     8    (f)  annually  review  the  emergency response plan of the Long Island
     9  power authority and any related service provider  and  make  recommenda-
    10  tions  to  the  authority with respect to the performance of the service
    11  provider in restoring service or otherwise meeting the  requirements  of
    12  the  emergency  response  plan  during  an  emergency event, defined for
    13  purposes of this section as  an  event  where  widespread  outages  have
    14  occurred  in  the  authority's service territory due to a storm or other
    15  causes beyond the control of the authority  and  the  service  provider,
    16  including  making  determinations  with  respect  to whether the service
    17  provider is reasonably able to implement the  emergency  response  plan,
    18  whether  the  length of any outages related to such emergency were mate-
    19  rially longer than they would otherwise have been  because  the  service
    20  provider failed to reasonably implement the emergency response plan, the
    21  reasonableness  of  costs  associated  with such emergency response, the
    22  costs, if any, that were unreasonably and imprudently  incurred  by  the
    23  service  provider  and  whether the service provider would be liable for
    24  any such costs pursuant to the terms and conditions  of  the  operations
    25  services agreement;
    26    (g)  review  the  annual  capital expenditures proposed by the service
    27  provider and recommend such improvement in the  manufacture,  conveying,
    28  transportation, distribution or supply of electricity, or in the methods
    29  employed  by  the service provider as in the utility consumer advocate's
    30  judgment allows for safe and adequate service; and
    31    (h) the purpose of the utility consumer  advocate's  oversight  is  to
    32  make  recommendations  designed  to  ensure  that  the Long Island power
    33  authority, the office and the service provider provide safe and adequate
    34  transmission and distribution service at rates set at the  lowest  level
    35  consistent  with  sound fiscal operating practices and ensure safe emer-
    36  gency response planning.
    37    4. Reports. On December first, two thousand  twenty-two  and  annually
    38  thereafter,  the  utility consumer advocate for the office shall issue a
    39  report to the governor and the legislature, and make such report  avail-
    40  able  to  the  public  free  of  charge on a publicly available website,
    41  containing, but not limited to, the following information:
    42    (a) all proceedings that the utility consumer advocate for the  office
    43  participated  in  and  the outcome of such proceedings, to the extent of
    44  such outcome and if not confidential;
    45    (b) estimated savings to residential utility consumers  that  resulted
    46  from intervention by the utility consumer advocate for the office; and
    47    (c) policy recommendations, including emergency response planning, and
    48  suggested  statutory  amendments  that the utility consumer advocate for
    49  the office deems necessary.
    50    § 2. This act shall take effect on the first of April next  succeeding
    51  the date on which it shall have become a law.
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