Requires reporting by the public service commission on consumer protections adopted by electric corporations and municipalities; the adequacy of the public service commissions assistance to customers facing disconnection of utility service.
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the public service law, in relation to requiring reporting by the public service commission on consumer protections adopted by electric corporations and municipalities
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
The legislation would require the Public Service Commission (PSC) to submit to the Governor, Assembly Speaker, and Temporary President of the Senate, an annual review of existing consumer protection policies under HEFPA. The legislation requires evaluations of several critical consumer protection mechanisms. The legislation would create unprecedented opportunities for actively addressing consumer policy deficiencies.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
The PSC must submit its first report by November 15th, 2014, and at least once annually thereafter. The report must include, but is not limited to, evaluations and information on the following:
a) procedures for notifying customers who are in arrears on their obligations of how they may avoid termination;
b) effectiveness of the PSC's shutoff hotline, including the call volume to such hotline in each utility service territory;
c) adequacy of the PSC's assistance to customers negotiating deferred payment agreements;
d) number of incidences, if any, in which utilities have required more than the lawfully allowed level of down payments or deferred payments from customers seeking to connect service or avoid disconnection; and
e) the monthly number of electric and natural gas customers who previously received utility bill assistance from the Home Energy Assistance Program whose service was terminated for bill collection purposes in each utility service area in the previous calendar year;
The PSC is obligated to collect information from utilities in ways that preserve customer confidentiality.
Between 2005 and 2010, New York utilities have executed over 1.7 million residential utility terminations. New York's unsettling termination trend strongly suggests that existing consumer protection policies are failing consumers. This legislation would require the PSC to periodically evaluate - and improve - consumer protection policies.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2011-12: S.S697-A/A.7778 (Linares) (Difference in dates) (Passed Assembly)
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS:
This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 666 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 9, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sen. AVELLA -- 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 report- ing by the public service commission on consumer protections adopted by electric corporations and municipalities THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 32 of the public service law is amended by adding a new subdivision 7 to read as follows: 7. THE COMMISSION SHALL, NOT LATER THAN NOVEMBER FIFTEENTH, TWO THOU- SAND FIFTEEN, AND AT LEAST ONCE ANNUALLY THEREAFTER, PROVIDE TO THE GOVERNOR, THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, THE SPEAKER OF THE ASSEMBLY, THE CHAIR OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND TELECOMMUNI- CATIONS AND THE CHAIR OF THE ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON ENERGY A REPORT DETAILING CONSUMER PROTECTIONS ADOPTED BY ELECTRIC CORPORATIONS AND MUNICIPALITIES ("UTILITIES") PURSUANT TO THIS ARTICLE, AND THE ADEQUACY OF THE COMMISSION'S ASSISTANCE TO CUSTOMERS FACING DISCONNECTION OF UTILITY SERVICE. THE REPORT SHALL INCLUDE, BUT NOT BE LIMITED TO AN ANALYSIS OF: (A) THE EFFECTIVENESS OF CURRENT UTILITY PROCEDURES FOR NOTIFYING CUSTOMERS IN ARREARS ON UTILITY CHARGES OF HOW THEY MAY AVOID TERMI- NATION OF ELECTRIC, GAS OR STEAM SERVICE, INCLUDING THE AVAILABILITY OF DEFERRED PAYMENT AGREEMENTS; (B) THE ADEQUACY OF THE COMMISSION'S ASSISTANCE TO CUSTOMERS NEGOTIAT- ING DEFERRED PAYMENT AGREEMENTS WITH UTILITIES IN LIEU OF DISCONNECTION OF SERVICE, INCLUDING THE AMOUNT OF DEFERRED PAYMENT PLANS BY UTILITY SERVICE TERRITORY; (C) THE NUMBER OF INCIDENCES, IF ANY, IN WHICH UTILITIES HAVE REQUIRED MORE THAN THE LAWFULLY ALLOWED LEVEL OF DOWN PAYMENTS OR DEFERREDEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD03373-01-3 S. 666 2
PAYMENTS FROM CUSTOMERS SEEKING TO CONNECT SERVICE OR AVOID DISCON- NECTION; (D) THE EFFECTIVENESS AND AVAILABILITY OF THE COMMISSION'S SHUTOFF HOTLINE IN RECEIVING CALLS FROM CUSTOMERS FACING TERMINATION OF ELEC- TRIC, GAS AND STEAM SERVICE AND THE CALL VOLUME TO SUCH HOTLINE IN EACH UTILITY SERVICE TERRITORY; (E) THE MONTHLY NUMBER OF ELECTRIC AND NATURAL GAS CUSTOMERS WHO PREVIOUSLY RECEIVED UTILITY BILL ASSISTANCE FROM THE HOME ENERGY ASSIST- ANCE PROGRAM WHOSE SERVICE WAS TERMINATED FOR BILL COLLECTION PURPOSES IN EACH UTILITY SERVICE AREA IN THE PREVIOUS CALENDAR YEAR, PROVIDED FURTHER THAT THE COMMISSION SHALL REQUIRE EACH UTILITY TO PROVIDE SUCH INFORMATION WHILE MAINTAINING CUSTOMER CONFIDENTIALITY; AND (F) ANY PROPOSED LEGISLATIVE REMEDIES NECESSARY TO INCREASE CUSTOMER AWARENESS OF SUCH HOTLINE. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.