Establishes a public service commission nominating board to make recommendations of persons qualified for appointment as commissioners of the public service commission.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public service law, in relation to the appointment of members of the public service commission
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: In its January 2007 report, the Assembly Queens Power Outage Task Force recommended several measures to improve oversight of utilities and prevent future blackouts. This bill borrows from the experience of several other states to set clearly defined statutory qualifications for prospective members of the Public Service Commission (PSC), and sets forth a deliberative process for ensuring that any new appointees are widely acknowledged as highly qualified.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Bill §1 amends §4 of the Public Service Law by adding a new subdivision 4, providing that, to ensure the highest standard of public utility regulation, any person appointed as a member of the Public Service Commission (PSC) shall be qualified for such appointment as provided in §4-a of such law. Bill §2 adds §4-a, which in summary provides:
* any person appointed as a PSC commissioner shall (a) have education and training and 3 or more years of experience in one or more of the following fields: economics, engineering, law, accounting, business management, utility regulation, public policy, consumer advocacy or environmental management; and (b) shall be selected from a list of individuals nominated by a new Public Service Commission Nominating Board (PSCNB);
* the PSCNB consists of the following individuals: (1) the Executive Director of the Consumer Protection Board (or designee);
(2) the President of NYSERDA (or designee);
(3) the Commissioner of Economic Development (or designee);
(4) the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation (or designee);
(5) the Attorney General (or designee);
(6) a professional engineer appointed by the Commissioner of Education;
(7) a certified public accountant appointed by the Commissioner of Education;
(8) a person 65 years of age of older appointed by the Director of the state Office for the Aging;
(9) a representative of business entities regulated by the PSC, appointed by the Governor;
(10) a representative of business entities that are not regulated by the PSC, appointed by the governor;
(11) a representative of labor appointed by the governor;
(12) two members of the public appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly;
(13) two members of the public appointed by the Temporary President of the Senate;
(14) a member of the public appointed by the Assembly Minority; and
(15) a member of the public appointed by the Senate Minority Leader.
* The PSCNB shall select a chairperson, adopt bylaws, and keep a record of its proceedings. Special meetings may be called by the chairperson, and shall be called by the chairperson upon receipt of a written request for a meeting signed by two or more members of the board.
* The PSCNB shall review and evaluate possible appointees for the office of commissioner of the PSC, and, within 2-3 months prior to the expiration of a PSC commissioner's term or within one month after the death, resignation or termination of service of such a member, shall provide the Governor with a list of 4 individuals who the PSCNB adjudges to be the most fully qualified to serve on the commission. The board shall not include the name of an individual upon the list if his or her appointment would result in a greater number of members of the PSC belonging to the same political party than is permitted pursuant to section four of this chapter.
* Within 30 days of receipt of the PSCNB's recommendations, the Governor shall fill the vacancy by appointment of one of the persons recommended by the board, or may reject all nominees of the board and reconvene the PSCNB in order to select 4 additional nominees. However, once the Governor has done so and the PSCNB has provided a second list of 4 names, the Governor shall make the appointment from one of the names on the first list or the second list.
EFFECTS OF PRESENT LAW WHICH THIS BILL WOULD ALTER: There are currently no statutory standards for appointment to the PSC, other than provisions for political party balance, and no process for selection of the most qualified individuals.
JUSTIFICATION: Last summer, the western part of Queens suffered a massive power outage that lasted 9 days. The Assembly Queens Power Outage Task Force studied the outage's causes and the inadequate responses by the company responsible for the transmission and distribution system, Consolidated Edison, and by the Public Service Commission. One underlying cause of this debacle was found to be the reliance by New York's utility regulators on antiquated laws, regulations and policies that let companies engaged in energy transmission and distribution operate without effective oversight.
The Task Force found that, unlike many other states, New York does not have any substantive statutory standards for who may serve on the PSC. This bill sets forth such standards, as well as a process similar to those utilized in Ohio and Florida to seek out the most qualified individuals to assist the state in this vital area of regulation.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: None.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: The 120th day after enactment.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 1984 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE January 14, 2011 ___________Introduced by Sen. GIANARIS -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Energy and Telecommuni- cations AN ACT to amend the public service law, in relation to the appointment of members of the public service commission THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 4 of the public service law is amended by adding a new subdivision 4 to read as follows: 4. TO ENSURE THE HIGHEST STANDARD OF PUBLIC UTILITY REGULATION, ANY PERSON APPOINTED AS A COMMISSIONER PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE QUALIFIED FOR SUCH APPOINTMENT AS PROVIDED IN SECTION FOUR-A OF THIS ARTICLE. S 2. The public service law is amended by adding a new section 4-a to read as follows: S 4-A. PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION NOMINATING BOARD. 1. ANY PERSON APPOINTED AS A COMMISSIONER PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION FOUR OF THIS ARTICLE SHALL (A) HAVE EDUCATION AND TRAINING, AND THREE OR MORE YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING FIELDS: ECONOMICS, ENGINEERING, LAW, ACCOUNTING, BUSINESS MANAGEMENT, UTILITY REGULATION, PUBLIC POLICY, CONSUMER ADVOCACY OR ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT; AND (B) SHALL BE SELECTED FROM A LIST OF INDIVIDUALS NOMINATED AS PROVIDED IN SUBDIVISION TWO OF THIS SECTION. 2. (A) THERE SHALL BE ESTABLISHED IN THE DEPARTMENT A PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION NOMINATING BOARD CONSISTING OF THE FOLLOWING: (1) THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE STATE CONSUMER PROTECTION BOARD, OR HIS OR HER DESIGNEE; (2) THE PRESIDENT OF THE NEW YORK STATE ENERGY RESEARCH AND DEVELOP- MENT AUTHORITY, OR HIS OR HER DESIGNEE; (3) THE COMMISSIONER OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, OR HIS OR HER DESIGNEE;EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD04803-01-1 S. 1984 2
(4) THE COMMISSIONER OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION, OR HIS OR HER DESIGNEE; (5) THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, OR HIS OR HER DESIGNEE; (6) A PROFESSIONAL ENGINEER APPOINTED BY THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCA- TION, TO SERVE AT THE PLEASURE OF SUCH COMMISSIONER; (7) A CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANT APPOINTED BY THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION, TO SERVE AT THE PLEASURE OF SUCH COMMISSIONER; (8) A PERSON SIXTY-FIVE YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER APPOINTED BY THE DIREC- TOR OF THE STATE OFFICE FOR THE AGING, TO SERVE AT THE PLEASURE OF SUCH DIRECTOR; (9) A REPRESENTATIVE OF BUSINESS ENTITIES REGULATED BY THE COMMISSION, APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR, TO SERVE AT THE PLEASURE OF THE GOVERNOR; (10) A REPRESENTATIVE OF BUSINESS ENTITIES THAT ARE NOT REGULATED BY THE COMMISSION, APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR, TO SERVE AT THE PLEASURE OF THE GOVERNOR; (11) A REPRESENTATIVE OF LABOR APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR, TO SERVE AT THE PLEASURE OF THE GOVERNOR; (12) TWO MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC APPOINTED BY THE SPEAKER OF THE ASSEM- BLY, TO SERVE AT THE PLEASURE OF THE SPEAKER; (13) TWO MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC APPOINTED BY THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, TO SERVE AT THE PLEASURE OF THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT; (14) A MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC APPOINTED BY THE MINORITY LEADER OF THE ASSEMBLY, TO SERVE AT THE PLEASURE OF THE MINORITY LEADER; AND (15) A MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC APPOINTED BY THE MINORITY LEADER OF THE SENATE, TO SERVE AT THE PLEASURE OF THE MINORITY LEADER. (B) AT ITS INITIAL MEETING IN EACH CALENDAR YEAR, SUCH BOARD SHALL SELECT FROM AMONG ITS MEMBERS A CHAIRPERSON. THE BOARD MAY ADOPT BYLAWS GOVERNING ITS PROCEEDINGS. (C) THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION NOMINATING BOARD SHALL KEEP A RECORD OF ITS PROCEEDINGS. SPECIAL MEETINGS MAY BE CALLED BY THE CHAIRPERSON, AND SHALL BE CALLED BY THE CHAIRPERSON UPON RECEIPT OF A WRITTEN REQUEST FOR A MEETING SIGNED BY TWO OR MORE MEMBERS OF THE BOARD. WRITTEN NOTICE OF THE TIME AND PLACE OF EACH MEETING SHALL BE SENT TO EACH MEMBER OF THE BOARD. (D) THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION NOMINATING BOARD SHALL: (1) REVIEW AND EVALUATE POSSIBLE APPOINTEES FOR THE OFFICE OF COMMIS- SIONER OF THE COMMISSION; (2) NOT MORE THAN EIGHTY-FIVE NOR LESS THAN SIXTY DAYS PRIOR TO THE EXPIRATION OF THE TERM OF A COMMISSIONER, OR NOT MORE THAN THIRTY DAYS AFTER THE DEATH OR RESIGNATION OF OR TERMINATION OF SERVICE BY, A COMMISSIONER, PROVIDE THE GOVERNOR WITH A LIST OF FOUR INDIVIDUALS MEET- ING THE QUALIFICATIONS OF THIS SECTION WHO ARE, IN THE JUDGMENT OF THE BOARD, THE MOST FULLY QUALIFIED TO SERVE ON THE COMMISSION. THE BOARD SHALL NOT INCLUDE THE NAME OF AN INDIVIDUAL UPON ANY SUCH LIST IF THE APPOINTMENT OF THAT INDIVIDUAL BY THE GOVERNOR WOULD RESULT IN A GREATER NUMBER OF MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION BELONGING TO THE SAME POLITICAL PARTY THAN IS PERMITTED PURSUANT TO SECTION FOUR OF THIS ARTICLE. (3) IN REVIEWING AND EVALUATING POSSIBLE APPOINTEES FOR THE OFFICE OF COMMISSIONER OF THE COMMISSION, THE BOARD MAY ACCEPT COMMENTS FROM, COOPERATE WITH AND REQUEST INFORMATION FROM ANY PERSON. (E) WITHIN THIRTY DAYS OF RECEIPT OF THE BOARD'S RECOMMENDATIONS, THE GOVERNOR SHALL APPOINT ONE OF THE PERSONS RECOMMENDED BY THE BOARD TO FILL A VACANCY OCCURRING IN THE OFFICE OF COMMISSIONER. NOTHING IN THIS SECTION SHALL PREVENT THE GOVERNOR IN THE GOVERNOR'S DISCRETION FROM REJECTING ALL OF THE NOMINEES OF THE BOARD AND RECONVENING THE BOARD IN ORDER TO SELECT FOUR ADDITIONAL NOMINEES. HOWEVER, WHEN THE GOVERNOR HASS. 1984 3
RECONVENED THE BOARD AND THE BOARD HAS PROVIDED THE GOVERNOR WITH A SECOND LIST OF FOUR NAMES, THE GOVERNOR SHALL MAKE THE APPOINTMENT FROM ONE OF THE NAMES ON THE FIRST LIST OR THE SECOND LIST. (F) THE MEMBERS OF THE BOARD SHALL RECEIVE NO COMPENSATION FOR THEIR SERVICES ON THE BOARD BUT SHALL BE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT OF THEIR ACTUAL AND NECESSARY EXPENSES. S 3. This act shall take effect on the one hundred twentieth day after it shall have become a law.