Bill Text: NY S08946 | 2019-2020 | General Assembly | Introduced


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

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 3-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2020-08-28 - REFERRED TO RULES [S08946 Detail]

Download: New_York-2019-S08946-Introduced.html



                STATE OF NEW YORK
        ________________________________________________________________________

                                          8946

                    IN SENATE

                                     August 28, 2020
                                       ___________

        Introduced  by  Sens.  SAVINO, THOMAS -- read twice and ordered printed,
          and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Rules

        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.
    20    § 28-b. Establishment of the state  office  of  the  utility  consumer
    21  advocate.  There is established the state office of the utility consumer
    22  advocate to represent the interests of  residential  utility  customers.
    23  The  utility  consumer  advocate shall be appointed by the governor to a
    24  term of six years, upon the advice and consent of the senate. The utili-
    25  ty consumer advocate shall possess knowledge and experience  in  matters
    26  affecting residential utility customers and shall be responsible for the
    27  direction,  control,  and  operation  of the state office of the utility
    28  consumer advocate, including  its  hiring  of  staff  and  retention  of

         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                   LBD01248-02-0

        S. 8946                             2

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

        S. 8946                             3

     1    (e) enter into cooperative agreements with other government offices to
     2  efficiently carry out its work.
     3    §  28-d.  Reports. On July first, two thousand twenty-one and annually
     4  thereafter, the state office of  the  utility  consumer  advocate  shall
     5  issue a report to the governor and the legislature, and make such report
     6  available  to the public free of charge on a publicly available website,
     7  containing, but not limited to, the following information:
     8    (a) all proceedings that the state  office  of  the  utility  consumer
     9  advocate  participated  in  and  the outcome of such proceedings, to the
    10  extent of such outcome and if not confidential;
    11    (b) estimated savings to residential utility consumers  that  resulted
    12  from  intervention by the state office of the utility consumer advocate;
    13  and
    14    (c) policy recommendations and suggested statutory amendments that the
    15  state office of the utility consumer advocate deems necessary.
    16    § 2. This act shall take effect on the first of April next  succeeding
    17  the date on which it shall have become a law.
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