Bill S4449-2013

Requires public utilities to issue standardized bills to residential customers

Requires providers of electric, gas, steam, telephone and cable television services to issue standardized bills to residential customers; provides the standards for such bills shall be established by the public service commission.

Details

Actions

  • Jan 8, 2014: REFERRED TO ENERGY AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS
  • Apr 1, 2013: REFERRED TO ENERGY AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Memo

BILL NUMBER:S4449

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public service law, in relation to requiring providers of electric, gas, steam, telephone and cable television service to use a uniform format, and uniform terminologies and definitions in bills for residential service; and providing for the repeal of such provisions upon the expiration thereof

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:

Requires public and private utility companies to issue standardized bills to residential customers

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Section 1: Short title

Section 2: Amends the Public Service Law to make utility companies issue uniform bill forms and use universal terminology and definitions decided upon by the commission.

Section 3: Adds section 92-g to the Public Service Law which makes telephone companies issue uniform bill forms and use universal terminology and definitions decided upon by the commission.

Section 4: Amends the Public Service Law to make television and cable companies issue uniform bill forms and use universal terminology and definitions decided upon by the commission.

JUSTIFICATION:

Telephone and utility bills are often confusing, especially for the elderly and those with disabilities. By creating uniform terminology for billing statements across all utility companies that provide the same service. This will make it much easier to understand what consumers are being charged and easier to compare bills between companies.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

New Bill

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:

None to the state

EFFECTIVE DATE:

This act shall take effect on the 180th day after this act shall have become law.


Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4449 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE April 1, 2013 ___________
Introduced by Sen. LIBOUS -- 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 requiring provid- ers of electric, gas, steam, telephone and cable television service to use a uniform format, and uniform terminologies and definitions in bills for residential service; and providing for the repeal of such provisions upon the expiration thereof THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Short title. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "uniform utility consumer comparison act". S 2. Subdivision 1 of section 44 of the public service law, as added by chapter 713 of the laws of 1981, is amended to read as follows: 1. Every utility corporation or municipality shall assure that bills for service to residential customers adequately explain the charges for service in clear and understandable form and language. FURTHERMORE, SUCH BILLS SHALL UTILIZE THE FORMAT, TERMINOLOGY AND DEFINITIONS ESTABLISHED THEREFOR BY THE COMMISSION. The commission [may] SHALL, from time to time, specify [the] A UNIFORM form and content [of] FOR such bills to further the objectives of this subdivision. SUCH FORM AND CONTENT SHALL REQUIRE THE USE OF SPECIFIC TERMINOLOGY AND DEFINITIONS. S 3. The public service law is amended by adding a new section 92-g to read as follows: S 92-G. UNIFORMITY IN RESIDENTIAL BILLS. 1. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, "PROVIDER OF TELEPHONE SERVICES" MEANS A TELEPHONE CORPORATION THAT PROVIDES INTRASTATE INTER-LATA, INTRA-LATA OR LOCAL EXCHANGE TELE- PHONE SERVICE TO END-USE CUSTOMERS. 2. EVERY PROVIDER OF TELEPHONE SERVICES SHALL ASSURE THAT BILLS FOR TELEPHONE SERVICE TO RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMERS ADEQUATELY EXPLAIN THE CHARG- ES FOR SERVICE AND ALL OTHER CHARGES IN CLEAR AND UNDERSTANDABLE FORM
AND LANGUAGE. FURTHERMORE, SUCH BILLS SHALL UTILIZE THE FORMAT, TERMI- NOLOGY AND DEFINITIONS ESTABLISHED THEREFOR BY THE COMMISSION. 3. THE COMMISSION SHALL ESTABLISH A UNIFORM FORMAT FOR BILLS ISSUED TO RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMERS BY PROVIDERS OF TELEPHONE SERVICES. SUCH FORMAT SHALL REQUIRE THE USE OF SPECIFIC TERMINOLOGY AND DEFINITIONS. S 4. Section 224-b of the public service law, as added by chapter 359 of the laws of 2009, is amended to read as follows: S 224-b. Cable bills. 1. At the time service is initiated to a resi- dential customer and at least once a year thereafter, every telephone corporation, as defined in subdivision seventeen of section two of this chapter, and every cable television company, as defined in section two hundred twelve of this article that provides cable service to customers in New York shall provide its customers with a notice that billing statements are available in a large print format. Upon written request by a customer, every telephone corporation and cable television company shall provide the customer's billing statements in large print format no later than sixty days after the date upon which the request is received by the telephone corporation and cable television company. The provisions of this section shall apply only to printed statements. For the purposes of this section, "large print" means a font size of sixteen or larger to illuminate billing information. 2. EVERY TELEPHONE CORPORATION AND CABLE TELEVISION COMPANY SHALL ASSURE THAT BILLS FOR CABLE SERVICE TO RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMERS ADEQUATELY EXPLAIN THE CHARGES FOR SERVICE AND ALL OTHER CHARGES IN CLEAR AND UNDERSTANDABLE FORM AND LANGUAGE. FURTHERMORE, SUCH BILLS SHALL UTILIZE THE FORMAT, TERMINOLOGY AND DEFINITIONS ESTABLISHED THEREFOR BY THE COMMISSION. 3. THE COMMISSION SHALL ESTABLISH A UNIFORM FORMAT FOR BILLS ISSUED TO RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMERS FOR CABLE SERVICE. SUCH FORMAT SHALL REQUIRE THE USE OF SPECIFIC TERMINOLOGY AND DEFINITIONS. S 5. This act shall take effect immediately and shall expire and be deemed repealed 5 years after it shall take effect, except that section two of this act, subdivision 2 of section 92-g of the public service law, as added by section three of this act, and subdivision 2 of section 224-b of the public service law, as added by section four of this act, shall take effect on the one hundred eightieth day after this act shall have become a law.

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