Prohibits gas and electric corporations from filing any schedules setting forth rules or regulations which absolve or attempt to absolve such corporations from liability for the interruption of its supply of service arising from the ordinary negligence of its employees, servants or agents and provides that any such schedules filed are void as against public policy.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public service law, in relation to the liability of gas and electric corporations arising from the negligence of their employees, servants or agents
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 will provide incentives for utilities to ensure that their systems provide safe and adequate service by eliminating special treatment for electricity and gas suppliers with respect to their responsibility for negligent operations.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Bill § 1 amends subdivision 12 of § 66 of the Public Service Law to prohibit the filing by gas or electric corporations of any schedules absolving any such corporation from liability for the interruption of its supply of services arising from the ordinary negligence of its employees, servants, or agents. Any such schedule currently filed is deemed void as against public policy.
EFFECTS OF PRESENT LAW WHICH THIS BILL WOULD ALTER: No current statutory language addresses waivers of ordinary negligence by gas or electric corporations.
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.
Several of the findings and recommendations of the Task Force concerned the inadequacy of Consolidated Edison's policies regarding reimbursement for its failure to deliver a safe and adequate supply of electricity, as the Public Service Law requires. One fundamental barrier to the public's ability to be appropriately compensated is the current language in the tariffs filed by electric and gas utilities disclaiming any responsibility for disruptions of service, except in cases of gross negligence.
The Task Force recommended that the Legislature should amend the Public Service Law to remove the tariff bar against suits for damages from outages due to simple negligence. This bill would accomplish this goal, which would result in assigning the same degree of legal responsibility to operators of energy transmission and distribution systems as virtually every other business currently bears.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: None.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 2533 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE January 25, 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 liability of gas and electric corporations arising from the negligence of their employees, servants or agents THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivision 12 of section 66 of the public service law is amended by adding a new undesignated paragraph to read as follows: NOTHING CONTAINED IN THIS SUBDIVISION SHALL BE CONSTRUED TO, AND NO RULE, REGULATION, ORDER OR PRACTICE OF THE COMMISSION SHALL AUTHORIZE THE FILING BY ANY GAS CORPORATION OR ELECTRIC CORPORATION OF ANY SCHED- ULE SETTING FORTH RULES OR REGULATIONS RELATING TO RATES OR SERVICE WHICH, IN WORDS OR EFFECT, ABSOLVE OR ATTEMPT TO ABSOLVE SUCH CORPO- RATION FROM LIABILITY FOR THE INTERRUPTION OF ITS SUPPLY OF SERVICE ARISING FROM THE ORDINARY NEGLIGENCE OF ITS EMPLOYEES, SERVANTS OR AGENTS. ANY PART OF ANY SCHEDULE FILED BY SUCH CORPORATION SETTING FORTH ANY SUCH RULES OR REGULATIONS RELATING TO ABSOLUTION FROM LIABIL- ITY SHALL BE DEEMED VOID AS AGAINST PUBLIC POLICY. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD05754-01-1