A04996 Summary:

COSPNSRColton, Hooper
MLTSPNSRAbinanti, 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:

02/10/2015referred to economic development
01/06/2016referred to economic development
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A04996 Memo:

submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
SPONSOR: Simotas (MS)
  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 advo- cate, 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 § 1 amends subdivision 1 of § 4 of the Public Service to add a requirement that at least one commission- er of the Public Service Commission (PSC) must have experience in utili- ty 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 require- ments 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 over- seeing 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 reason- able 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 neigh- bors, Massachusetts, similarly requires that one of its commissioners must have a background and experience in consumer protection and advoca- cy 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 rate- payers 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:

                STATE OF NEW YORK
                               2015-2016 Regular Sessions
                   IN ASSEMBLY
                                    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    §  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.
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