Establishes a small business energy assistance and advocacy services program as part of the division of small business to assist small businesses in accessing energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy programs available through public and private sources; requires notice to be given to the division of small business prior to any rate increase; makes related provisions.
Ayes (7): Stachowski, Hassell-Thompson, Parker, Stewart-Cousins, Aubertine, Espada, Foley
Ayes W/R (4): Alesi, Robach, Griffo, Volker
Excused (1): Fuschillo
BILL NUMBER: S5942
TITLE OF BILL : An act to amend the economic development law and the public service law, in relation to small business energy assistance and advocacy services
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL : This bill would improve New York's business climate by providing for a program of business energy assistance and advocacy.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS : Section One of the bill sets forth legislative findings concerning the impact of rising costs on the State's small businesses and the need for a program of assistance and advocacy to ensure the continued vitality of this crucial sector.
Section Two of the bill adds a new Section 138-a to the Economic Development Law to establish a small business energy assistance and advocacy services program within the Division for Small Business. The program shall:
o Solicit input from small businesses and organizations representing them on energy assistance needs; identify issues relating to energy availability, affordability and sustainability affecting small businesses; and develop recommendations for legislative, regulatory, and programmatic actions to address such issues;
o Coordinate with entities including NYSERDA, the Power Authority and other public utility authorities, the Public Service Commission (PSC) and utilities to promote small business participation in developing and implementing energy assistance programs and state energy policy;
o Provide small businesses with information and materials on energy assistance programs, cooperative fuel purchasing efforts and other programs to maintain the affordability of energy, and provide access to such information and materials on the Department of Economic Development's website; and
o Refer small businesses to specialists for information and assistance on affordable alternative technologies, process changes, products and operational methods to achieve energy savings.
The program, through the Division, shall represent the interests of small businesses before the PSC pursuant to a new Section 24-c of the Public Service Law, and is authorized to initiate, intervene in or participate in any proceedings before the PSC and in any other such energy-related proceedings as deemed necessary or appropriate. The program shall also advocate before the PSC and other state and federal regulatory agencies for the adoption of appropriate regulations providing for equitable treatment of small businesses in energy-related policies, including but not limited to extending reasonable consumer protections to small businesses in energy related matters.
Section Three of the bill adds a new Section 24-c to the Public Service Law to require that the Division be given notice prior to any filing for a rate increase or other change in utility regulation. Should the Division file a statement of intent to be a party in a PSC proceeding, it shall have and may exercise all the rights and privileges of a party.
JUSTIFICATION : Changes in the energy market are having a major impact on small businesses. Skyrocketing energy costs threaten the viability of many small businesses, while the opportunities created by conservation measures, alternative energy sources, co-generation and net metering, and financing help often require substantial investments of time and effort. Unlike larger businesses, small businesses often lack the resources to take full advantage of available programs to assist them in lowering their energy bills and "going green".
This information gap undercuts the effectiveness of our strategies to reduce fossil fuel use and preserve the environment. This bill would create a one stop energy assistance program at the Division for Small Business to make it easier for our entrepreneurs to learn about, compare and select energy alternatives that will best fit their operations and enable continued growth. The program would enhance the ability of New York's small businesses to take advantage of programs offered by NYSERDA, a public utility authorities and investor-owned utilities, as well as the new small business energy efficiency programs included in the federal "Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007" (P.L. 110-140).
The Division would also be empowered to represent the interests of small businesses in PSC rate cases and other proceedings relating to energy prices and policies. While the Consumer Protection Board has for many years been involved in advocating for residential energy customers, no organization has been similarly vested with the responsibility for ensuring that small businesses are presented in rate deliberations or in the development of state programs and policies on energy. Other states (including our neighbor) Pennsylvania) have recognized the value of a dedicated small business advocate in energy proceedings.
Taken together, the provisions of this bill will help to ensure that small businesses can take full advantage of conservation, efficiency and renewable energy programs and can obtain affordable energy to enable them-and our economy-to grow.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY : New Bill- 2009
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS : The Department of Economic Development already receives a percentage of the annual assessment on public utilities and corporations authorized by Public Service Law Section 18-a. The percentages of assessments allocated to specific agencies are changed each year in the budget process. Any additional funding required to implement the Division's responsibilities under Economic Development Law, Section 138-a and Public Service Law, Section 24-c can be achieved through such a reallocation.
EFFECTIVE DATE : This act shall take effect on the first of April next succeeding the date on which it shall have become a law; provided, however, that the department of economic development and the public service commission shall be immediately authorized to take any and all actions necessary to fully implement the provisions of this act on such date.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 5942 2009-2010 Regular Sessions IN SENATE June 19, 2009 ___________Introduced by Sen. STEWART-COUSINS -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Rules AN ACT to amend the economic development law and the public service law, in relation to small business energy assistance and advocacy services THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The legislature hereby finds and declares that rising ener- gy costs present a significant barrier to the economic viability of New York's small businesses, a crucial sector of the state's economy. Small businesses can least afford the time and cost associated with seeking opportunities to conserve energy, utilize energy efficient products and processes and gain access to renewable sources of energy. The viability of small businesses and the overall economic and environmental status of New York state will be enhanced by the development, expansion and promotion of accessible and affordable programs to assist small busi- nesses in energy conservation, energy efficiency, and increased use of renewable resources, and by ensuring equitable treatment of small busi- nesses in the proceedings of energy-related regulatory agencies. The legislature hereby establishes a small business energy assistance and advocacy services program as part of the division for small business within the New York state department of economic development to assist small businesses in accessing energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy programs available through public and private sources, and to advocate for the initiation and expansion of such programs and for equitable treatment of small businesses in regulatory proceedings related to energy. S 2. The economic development law is amended by adding a new section 138-a to read as follows: S 138-A. SMALL BUSINESS ENERGY ASSISTANCE AND ADVOCACY SERVICES PROGRAM. 1. THERE IS HEREBY ESTABLISHED WITHIN THE DIVISION A SMALL BUSINESS ENERGY ASSISTANCE AND ADVOCACY SERVICES PROGRAM.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD10175-01-9 S. 5942 2
2. THE SMALL BUSINESS ENERGY ASSISTANCE AND ADVOCACY SERVICES PROGRAM, DIRECTLY AND IN CONJUNCTION WITH OTHER DIVISIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT AND WITH OTHER AGENCIES OF THE STATE, FEDERAL AGENCIES OR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS, SHALL: A. SOLICIT INPUT FROM SMALL BUSINESSES AND FROM ORGANIZATIONS REPRES- ENTING SMALL BUSINESSES, SUCH AS TRADE ASSOCIATIONS OR OTHER ENTITIES, REGARDING THE ENERGY ASSISTANCE NEEDS OF SMALL BUSINESSES; B. WITH SUCH INPUT AND THE ASSISTANCE OF THE SMALL BUSINESS ADVISORY BOARD AND OTHER APPROPRIATE STATE AGENCIES, IDENTIFY ISSUES RELATING TO ENERGY AVAILABILITY, AFFORDABILITY AND SUSTAINABILITY AFFECTING SMALL BUSINESSES AND ASSIST THE ADVISORY BOARD AND THE DIVISION IN MAKING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR LEGISLATIVE, REGULATORY AND PROGRAMMATIC ACTIONS TO ADDRESS SUCH ISSUES; C. COORDINATE WITH ENTITIES INCLUDING THE NEW YORK STATE ENERGY RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, THE POWER AUTHORITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK AND OTHER APPROPRIATE PUBLIC UTILITY AUTHORITIES ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO ARTICLE FIVE OF THE PUBLIC AUTHORITIES LAW, THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION, INVESTOR-OWNED UTILITIES AND OTHER APPROPRIATE ENTI- TIES TO FACILITATE AND PROMOTE THE PARTICIPATION OF SMALL BUSINESSES AND ASSOCIATIONS REPRESENTING SMALL BUSINESSES IN THE DEVELOPMENT AND IMPLE- MENTATION OF ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS; D. PROVIDE GUIDANCE AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE NEW YORK STATE ENERGY RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, THE POWER AUTHORITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK AND OTHER PUBLIC UTILITY AUTHORITIES ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO ARTICLE FIVE OF THE PUBLIC AUTHORITIES LAW, THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMIS- SION, INVESTOR-OWNED UTILITIES AND OTHER ENTITIES REGARDING THE DEVELOP- MENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS AND ON THE IMPACT OF STATE ENERGY POLICY ON SMALL BUSINESSES; E. PROVIDE TO SMALL BUSINESSES INFORMATION AND MATERIALS ON ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS, COOPERATIVE FUEL PURCHASING EFFORTS AND OTHER PROGRAMS TO MAINTAIN THE AFFORDABILITY OF ENERGY, AND PROVIDE ACCESS TO SUCH INFORMATION AND MATERIALS ON THE DEPARTMENT'S WEBSITE; AND F. REFER SMALL BUSINESSES TO SPECIALISTS FOR INFORMATION AND ASSIST- ANCE ON AFFORDABLE ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES, PROCESS CHANGES, PRODUCTS AND OPERATIONAL METHODS TO ACHIEVE ENERGY SAVINGS. 3. A. THE SMALL BUSINESS ENERGY ASSISTANCE AND ADVOCACY SERVICES PROGRAM SHALL REPRESENT THE INTERESTS OF SMALL BUSINESSES BEFORE THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION PURSUANT TO SECTION TWENTY-FOUR-C OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE LAW, AND SHALL BE AUTHORIZED TO INITIATE, INTERVENE IN OR PARTICIPATE IN ANY PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION AND IN ANY OTHER SUCH ENERGY-RELATED PROCEEDINGS AS THE DIVISION DEEMS TO BE NECESSARY OR APPROPRIATE. B. THE SMALL BUSINESS ENERGY ASSISTANCE AND ADVOCACY SERVICES PROGRAM SHALL ADVOCATE BEFORE THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION AND OTHER STATE AND FEDERAL REGULATORY AGENCIES FOR THE ADOPTION OF APPROPRIATE REGULATIONS PROVIDING FOR EQUITABLE TREATMENT OF SMALL BUSINESSES IN ENERGY-RELATED POLICIES, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO EXTENDING REASONABLE CONSUMER PROTECTIONS TO SMALL BUSINESSES IN ENERGY-RELATED MATTERS. S 3. The public service law is amended by adding a new section 24-c to read as follows: S 24-C. NOTICE TO BE GIVEN TO DIVISION PRIOR TO RATE INCREASE. 1. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY INCONSISTENT GENERAL, SPECIAL OR LOCAL LAW OR RULE OR REGULATION TO THE CONTRARY, THE COMMISSION SHALL TO THE EXTENT THE DIVISION SHALL SO REQUEST IN ANY CASES OR CLASS OF CASES, GIVE NOTICE TO THE DIVISION OF ANY FILED STATEMENT PROPOSING TO MODIFY OR INCREASE RATES, SERVICES, SCHEDULE OF RATES OR ANY OTHER RATING RULE OR TO ADOPTS. 5942 3
OR AMEND ANY RATE OR SERVICE RULES OR REGULATIONS WITHIN FIVE DAYS AFTER THE COMMISSION SHALL HAVE RECEIVED SUCH STATEMENT FROM ANY UTILITY SUBJECT TO ITS JURISDICTION; PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THAT IN LIEU OF GIVING SUCH NOTICE, THE COMMISSION MAY DIRECT THAT THE UTILITY GIVE SUCH NOTICE TO THE DIVISION. THE COMMISSION SHALL DIRECTLY NOTIFY THE DIVISION OF ANY SUCH CASE THAT IS NOT INITIATED BY A UTILITY. 2. IN ANY SUCH CASE IN WHICH THE DIVISION SHALL FILE WITH THE COMMIS- SION A STATEMENT OF INTENT TO BE A PARTY, THE DIVISION SHALL HAVE AND IN ITS DISCRETION MAY EXERCISE ALL THE RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES OF A PARTY. 3. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, THE TERM "DIVISION" SHALL MEAN THE DIVISION FOR SMALL BUSINESS ESTABLISHED BY ARTICLE FOUR-B OF THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT LAW, AND THE TERM "COMMISSION" SHALL MEAN THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION. S 4. This act shall take effect on the first of April next succeeding the date on which it shall have become a law. Effective immediately the department of economic development and the public service commission shall be authorized to take any and all actions necessary to fully implement the provisions of this act on such effective date.