Bill Text: NY S03034 | 2021-2022 | General Assembly | Amended

Bill Title: Relates to utility intervenor reimbursement.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 4-0)

Status: (Engrossed) 2022-05-10 - referred to energy [S03034 Detail]

Download: New_York-2021-S03034-Amended.html

                STATE OF NEW YORK

            Cal. No. 906

                               2021-2022 Regular Sessions

                    IN SENATE

                                    January 27, 2021

        Introduced  by  Sens. PARKER, HINCHEY, HOYLMAN -- read twice and ordered
          printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee  on  Energy
          and  Telecommunications  -- reported favorably from said committee and
          committed to the Committee on Finance -- reported favorably from  said
          committee,  ordered  to  first  and  second report, ordered to a third
          reading, amended and ordered reprinted, retaining  its  place  in  the
          order of third reading

        AN  ACT to amend the public service law, in relation to utility interve-
          nor reimbursement; and to amend the state finance law, in relation  to
          establishing the utility intervenor account

          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  24-c to read as follows:
     3    §  24-c.    Utility  intervenor  reimbursement.  1.    As used in this
     4  section, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
     5    (a) "Compensation" means payment from the utility  intervenor  account
     6  fund  established by section ninety-seven-uuuu of the state finance law,
     7  for all or part, as determined by the department,  of  reasonable  advo-
     8  cate's  fees, reasonable expert witness fees, and other reasonable costs
     9  for preparation and participation in a proceeding.
    10    (b) "Participant" means a group of persons that apply jointly  for  an
    11  award of compensation under this section and who represent the interests
    12  of a significant number of residential or small business customers, or a
    13  not-for-profit  organization  in  this  state authorized pursuant to its
    14  articles of incorporation or bylaws to represent the interests of  resi-
    15  dential  or  small  business  utility  customers.  For  purposes of this
    16  section, a participant does not include  a  non-profit  organization  or
    17  other organization whose principal interests are the welfare of a public
    18  utility  or  its  investors  or employees, or the welfare of one or more
    19  businesses or industries which receive utility  service  ordinarily  and

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

        S. 3034--A                          2

     1  primarily  for  use  in  connection with the profit-seeking manufacture,
     2  sale, or distribution of goods or services.
     3    (c)  "Other  reasonable costs" means reasonable out-of-pocket expenses
     4  directly incurred by a participant that  are  directly  related  to  the
     5  contentions  or recommendations made by the participant that resulted in
     6  a substantial contribution.
     7    (d) "Party" means any interested party, respondent public utility,  or
     8  commission staff in a hearing or proceeding.
     9    (e)  "Proceeding"  means a complaint, or investigation, rulemaking, or
    10  other formal proceeding before the commission,  or  alternative  dispute
    11  resolution  procedures in lieu of formal proceedings as may be sponsored
    12  or endorsed by the commission, provided however such  proceedings  shall
    13  be limited to those arising under and proceeding pursuant to the follow-
    14  ing articles of this chapter: (1) the regulation of the price of gas and
    15  electricity,  pursuant  to  article  four  of  this chapter except those
    16  described in subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (c) of subdivision twelve of
    17  section sixty-six of this chapter; (2) the regulation of  the  price  of
    18  steam,  pursuant to article four-A of this chapter; (3) the submetering,
    19  remetering or resale of electricity to residential premises, pursuant to
    20  sections sixty-five and sixty-six of this chapter, and pursuant to regu-
    21  lations regarding the submetering, remetering, or resale of  electricity
    22  adopted  by the commission; and (4) such sections of this chapter as are
    23  applicable to a proceeding in which the commission makes  a  finding  on
    24  the record that the public interest requires the reimbursement of utili-
    25  ty intervenor fees pursuant to this section.
    26    (f)  "Significant  financial hardship" means that the participant will
    27  be unable to afford, without undue hardship, to pay the costs of  effec-
    28  tive  participation, including advocate's fees, expert witness fees, and
    29  other reasonable costs of participation.
    30    (g) "Small business" means a business with a gross annual  revenue  of
    31  two hundred fifty thousand dollars or less.
    32    (h)  "Substantial  contribution"  means  that,  in the judgment of the
    33  department, the participant's application may substantially  assist  the
    34  commission  in  making  its  decision  because the decision may adopt in
    35  whole or in part one or more factual contentions, legal contentions,  or
    36  specific  policy or procedural recommendations that will be presented by
    37  the participant.
    38    2. A participant may apply for an award  of  compensation  under  this
    39  section  in  a  proceeding  in  which such participant has sought active
    40  party status as defined by the department. The department  shall  deter-
    41  mine  appropriate procedures for accepting and responding to such appli-
    42  cations.  At the time of application, such participant  shall  serve  on
    43  every  party to the proceeding notice of intent to apply for an award of
    44  compensation.
    45    An application shall include:
    46    (a) A statement of the nature and extent and  the  factual  and  legal
    47  basis  of  the  participant's planned participation in the proceeding as
    48  far as it is possible to describe  such  participation  with  reasonable
    49  specificity at the time the application is filed.
    50    (b) At minimum, a reasonably detailed description of anticipated advo-
    51  cates and expert witness fees and other costs of preparation and partic-
    52  ipation that the participant expects to request as compensation.
    53    (c)  If participation or intervention will impose a significant finan-
    54  cial hardship and the participant seeks payment in advance to  an  award
    55  of compensation in order to initiate, continue or complete participation

        S. 3034--A                          3

     1  in  the hearing or proceeding, such participant must include evidence of
     2  such significant financial hardship in its application.
     3    (d) Any other requirements as required by the department.
     4    3.  (a)  Within  thirty  days  after  the filing of an application the
     5  department shall issue a decision that determines  whether  or  not  the
     6  participant may make a substantial contribution to the final decision in
     7  the  hearing or proceeding. If the department finds that the participant
     8  requesting compensation may make a substantial contribution, the depart-
     9  ment shall describe this  substantial  contribution  and  determine  the
    10  amount  of  compensation to be paid pursuant to subdivision four of this
    11  section.
    12    (b) Notwithstanding subdivision four of this section, if  the  depart-
    13  ment  finds  that  the participant has a significant financial hardship,
    14  the department may direct the public utility or utilities subject to the
    15  proceeding to pay all or part of the compensation to the  department  to
    16  be  provided  to  the participant prior to the end of the proceeding. In
    17  the event that the participant discontinues  its  participation  in  the
    18  proceeding  without  the consent of the department, the department shall
    19  be entitled to, in whole or in part, recover any payments made  to  such
    20  participant  to  be  refunded  to  the  public utility or utilities that
    21  provided such payment.
    22    (c) The computation of compensation pursuant to paragraph (a) of  this
    23  subdivision  shall  take  into  consideration  the  market rates paid to
    24  persons  of  comparable  training  and  experience  who  offer   similar
    25  services.  The  compensation  awarded  may  not, in any case, exceed the
    26  comparable market rate for services paid by the department or the public
    27  utility, whichever is greater, to persons  of  comparable  training  and
    28  experience who are offering similar services.
    29    (d)  Any  compensation  awarded  to a participant and not used by such
    30  participant shall be returned to the department for refund to the public
    31  utility or utilities that provided such payment.
    32    (e) The department shall require  that  participants  seeking  payment
    33  maintain  an itemized record of all expenditures incurred as a result of
    34  such proceeding.
    35    (i) The department may use the itemized record of expenses  to  verify
    36  the  claim of financial hardship by a participant seeking payment pursu-
    37  ant to paragraph (c) of subdivision two of this section.
    38    (ii) The department may use the record of expenditures in determining,
    39  after the completion of a proceeding, if any unused funds remain.
    40    (iii) The department shall preserve the confidentiality of the partic-
    41  ipant's records in making any audit or determining the  availability  of
    42  funds after the completion of a proceeding.
    43    (f)  In  the  event that the department finds that two or more partic-
    44  ipants' applications have substantially similar interests,  the  depart-
    45  ment  may require such participants to apply jointly in order to receive
    46  compensation.
    47    4. Any compensation pursuant to this section  shall  be  paid  at  the
    48  conclusion  of the proceeding by the public utility or utilities subject
    49  to the proceeding within thirty days. Such compensation shall be  remit-
    50  ted  to  the  department which shall then remit such compensation to the
    51  participant.
    52    5. The department shall deny any award to any participant who attempts
    53  to delay or obstruct the orderly and timely fulfillment of  the  depart-
    54  ment's responsibilities.
    55    §  2. The state finance law is amended by adding a new section 97-uuuu
    56  to read as follows:

        S. 3034--A                          4

     1    § 97-uuuu. Utility intervenor account. 1. There is hereby  established
     2  in  the  joint  custody of the state comptroller and the commissioner of
     3  taxation and finance a fund  to  be  known  as  the  utility  intervenor
     4  account.
     5    2.  Such account shall consist of all utility intervenor reimbursement
     6  monies received from utilities pursuant to section twenty-four-c of  the
     7  public service law.
     8    §  3.  This  act shall take effect on the thirtieth day after it shall
     9  have become a law.