A04996 Summary:

BILL NO    A04996 

SAME AS    SAME AS S02476

SPONSOR    Simotas (MS)

COSPNSR    Colton, Hooper

MLTSPNSR   Abinanti, Gottfried

Amd S4, Pub Serv L

Requires that at least one commissioner of the public service commission have
experience in utility consumer advocacy.
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A04996 Actions:

BILL NO    A04996 

02/10/2015 referred to economic development
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A04996 Votes:

There are no votes for this bill in this legislative session.
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A04996 Memo:

BILL NUMBER:A4996

TITLE OF BILL:  An act to amend the public service law, in relation to
requiring at least one commissioner of the public service commission
to have experience in utility consumer advocacy

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: By requiring that at least one member
of the Public Service Commission must be an experienced consumer
advocate, this bill will help restore the effectiveness of that body
in ensuring that public utilities operate in the best interest of the
public.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Bill S 1 amends subdivision 1 of S 4
of the Public Service to add a requirement that at least one
commissioner of the Public Service Commission (PSC) must have
experience in utility consumer advocacy.

EFFECTS OF PRESENT LAW WHICH THIS BILL WOULD ALTER:  Other than
provisions for political party balance, there are currently no
statutory standards for appointments to the PSC. This stands in marked
contrast to statutes in many other states, which provide various
mechanisms for determining qualifications for utility regulators --
including requirements in two of our neighboring states that at least
one commissioner must have experience in consumer protection and
advocacy.

JUSTIFICATION: The Public Service Commission is responsible for
overseeing the operations of "public utilities" -- providers of
energy, telecommunications and cable services that provide essential
services through the use of public rights-of-way and similar common
resources. It has long been recognized that, as was stated by
then-Governor Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, the PSC is not a "mere
arbitrator" but acts "as agent of the public" in seeing that utilities
"do two things: first, give people adequate service; second, charge
reasonable rates...."

In recent years, many people believe that the PSC has strayed from its
core mission of ensuring consumers receive adequate service at
reasonable rates. To rectify this situation, this legislation would
require that at least one PSC commissioner must have experience in
advocating for the interests of utility consumers. This provision is
already in force in the State of Connecticut (C.G.S. 516-2). Another
of our neighbors, Massachusetts, similarly requires that one of its
commissioners must have a background and experience in consumer
protection and advocacy issues (Mass. Gen. Laws title 25, 52).

Placing a dedicated consumer representative on the PSC will help
ensure that the interests of working families, small businesses and
other ratepayers are not subordinated to the interests of public
utilities and other commercial interests that are already
well-represented in PSC proceedings.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2009-10; A8406- 05/19/09 referred to
economic development 01/06/10 referred to economic development

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS:  None.


EFFECTIVE DATE: Thirtieth day after becoming law, and will apply to
any appointments to the PSC made on or after such date.
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A04996 Text:

                           S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
       ________________________________________________________________________

                                         4996

                              2015-2016 Regular Sessions

                                 I N  A S S E M B L Y

                                   February 10, 2015
                                      ___________

       Introduced  by M. of A. SIMOTAS, COLTON, HOOPER -- Multi-Sponsored by --
         M. of A. ABINANTI, GOTTFRIED -- read once and referred to the  Commit-
         tee on Economic Development

       AN  ACT  to  amend  the  public service law, in relation to requiring at
         least one commissioner of the public service commission to have  expe-
         rience in utility consumer advocacy

         THE  PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
       BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

    1    Section 1. Subdivision 1 of section 4 of the public  service  law,  as
    2  amended  by  chapter  155  of  the  laws  of 1970, is amended to read as
    3  follows:
    4    1. There shall be in the department of public service a public service
    5  commission, which shall possess the powers and duties hereinafter speci-
    6  fied, and also all powers necessary or proper to enable it to carry  out
    7  the  purposes  of  this  chapter.  The  commission shall consist of five
    8  members, to be appointed by the governor, by and  with  the  advice  and
    9  consent of the senate. A commissioner shall be designated as chairman of
   10  the commission by the governor to serve in such capacity at the pleasure
   11  of  the  governor  or  until  his term as commissioner expires whichever
   12  first occurs. AT LEAST ONE COMMISSIONER SHALL HAVE EXPERIENCE IN UTILITY
   13  CONSUMER ADVOCACY. No more than three commissioners may  be  members  of
   14  the same political party unless, pursuant to action taken under subdivi-
   15  sion  two,  the  number  of commissioners shall exceed five, and in such
   16  event no more than four commissioners may be members of the  same  poli-
   17  tical party.
   18    S  2.  This  act shall take effect on the thirtieth day after it shall
   19  have become a law and shall apply to appointments made on or after  such
   20  date.


        EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                             [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                  LBD07125-01-5
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