Bill Text: NY S08983 | 2021-2022 | General Assembly | Introduced

Bill Title: Relates to requiring the establishment of automatic payment plans; requires investor owned combination utility companies headquartered in New York to establish a statewide program to provide eligible participants with affordability payment plans.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2022-06-03 - COMMITTED TO RULES [S08983 Detail]

Download: New_York-2021-S08983-Introduced.html

                STATE OF NEW YORK


                    IN SENATE

                                       May 3, 2022

        Introduced  by  Sen.  PARKER -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
          printed to be committed to the Committee on  Energy  and  Telecommuni-

        AN  ACT  to  amend  the public service law, in relation to requiring the
          establishment of automatic payment plans

          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  66-t to read as follows:
     3    § 66-t. Utility automatic payment plans. 1.  Within one hundred eighty
     4  days of the effective date of this section,  notwithstanding  any  other
     5  provision  of  law, the commission is authorized and directed to require
     6  investor owned combination utility companies headquartered in  New  York
     7  to  establish  a statewide program to provide eligible participants with
     8  affordability payment plans. Investor owned combination  utility  compa-
     9  nies shall automatically provide appropriate payment plans to qualifying
    10  low  income  individuals  who provide documentation of their eligibility
    11  status.  The fiscal impact of such a  program  shall  not  be  borne  by
    12  customers and shall not be added to bills rendered by the investor owned
    13  combination  utility company to customers. Enrollment shall be available
    14  at any time during the year. For the purposes of this section, "combina-
    15  tion utility company" shall mean a utility company that  provides  elec-
    16  tric, gas, or steam service.
    17    2.  (a)  The  commission  shall engage with investor owned combination
    18  utility companies to establish automated file matching  mechanisms  that
    19  will  provide,  via electronic means, investor owned combination utility
    20  companies with a list of eligible participants within the utility compa-
    21  ny's service territory. The commission shall provide such information to
    22  such utility companies no less than  semi-annually.  An  investor  owned
    23  combination  utility  company  which  offers such a payment plan program
    24  shall conspicuously advertise the  availability  of  such  plan  on  the
    25  website of such utility company.
    26    (b)  The commission shall also create a mechanism by which an individ-
    27  ual's documentation is submitted and reasonably  and  promptly  reviewed

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

        S. 8983                             2

     1  for  qualification as proper documentation of the individual's eligibil-
     2  ity status. Such mechanism shall also provide for electronic  submission
     3  of documentation.
     4    3. An individual or household shall be determined to be eligible for a
     5  payment  plan  if such individual or household provides documentation of
     6  eligibility for any of the following programs:
     7    (a) temporary assistance for needy families (family assistance);
     8    (b) safety net assistance (public assistance);
     9    (c) supplemental security income (SSI);
    10    (d) supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP);
    11    (e) low income home energy assistance program;
    12    (f) veteran's disability pension;
    13    (g) veteran's surviving spouse pension;
    14    (h) child health plus;
    15    (i) lifeline;
    16    (j) home energy assistance program (HEAP);
    17    (k) direct vendor or utility guarantee;
    18    (l) temporary assistance to needy families (TANF);
    19    (m) social security disability insurance (SSDI);
    20    (n) emergency rental assistance program (ERAP); and
    21    (o) any  other  income-based  assistance  program  identified  by  the
    22  commission.
    23    4. (a) When devising payment plans, the utility company shall consider
    24  the circumstances and financial condition of the customer including:
    25    (i) The amount due, if any, on the account;
    26    (ii) The customer's ability to pay;
    27    (iii) The customer's payment history;
    28    (iv) The anticipated energy assistance benefits for which the customer
    29  may be eligible;
    30    (v) The circumstances which resulted in the past due bills;
    31    (vi)  Hardships  which  may result from the lack of utility service to
    32  the customer; and
    33    (vii) Any other relevant factors related to the circumstances  of  the
    34  customer.
    35    (b)  An  investor-owned  combination utility company shall permit each
    36  customer a period of not less than twenty-one days  from  the  date  the
    37  bill  was sent to pay in full, unless the customer and the utility agree
    38  on a different due date. A utility  shall  not  withdraw  funds  from  a
    39  customer's account before the due date in cases where a customer uses an
    40  automatic  bill  payment  plan unless the customer agrees to a different
    41  period.
    42    5. The attorney general may bring a civil action against any  investor
    43  owned  combination utility companies that violate this section to enjoin
    44  such violation and may recover a civil penalty  of  up  to  one  hundred
    45  dollars  per  violation of this section or, for a pattern or practice of
    46  such violations, of up  to  one  thousand  dollars  per  violation.    A
    47  violation shall be judged per individual account.
    48    § 2. This act shall take effect immediately.