A06239 Summary:

BILL NO    A06239B

SAME AS    SAME AS S04550-B

SPONSOR    Dinowitz (MS)

COSPNSR    Paulin, Brennan, Millman, Crespo, Jacobs, Kearns, Mosley, Rosenthal,
           Sepulveda, Colton, Perry, Zebrowski, Cook, Gottfried, Mayer, Otis,
           Galef, Jaffee, Hennessey, Cahill, Abinanti, Hevesi, Steck, Stirpe,
           McDonald, Gunther, Montesano, Robinson, Markey, Skartados, Lupardo,
           Raia, Brindisi, Weprin, Lifton, Ortiz, Skoufis

MLTSPNSR   Arroyo, Clark, Englebright, Glick, Rivera, Schimel, Simanowitz,
           Thiele, Weinstein, Weisenberg

Add Art 1-A SS28-a - 28-d, Pub Serv L

Creates the state office of the utility consumer advocate to represent
interests of residential utility customers.
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A06239 Memo:

BILL NUMBER:A6239B

TITLE OF BILL:  An act to amend the public service law, in relation to
creating the state office of the utility consumer advocate

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:

This bill would create the State Office of the Utility Consumer
Advocate to represent residential utility consumers' interests in
residential utility matters at the state and federal level.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Section 1 amends the public service law by adding a new article 1-A
that would establish the state Office of the Utility Consumer Advocate
(UCA). The UCA will be appointed by the governor to a six year term.
The section also outlines the qualifications required for such an
appointee and his or her responsibilities as the UCA, including the
operation of the office.

The section outlines the powers of the office of the UCA, which
include initiating, intervening, and participating on behalf of
residential utility consumers in any proceedings before the Public
Service Commission, the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission, the
Federal Communications Commission, state and local administrative and
regulatory agencies, and state and federal courts in any matter or
proceeding that may substantially affect the interests of residential
utility customers. The section also allows for the UCA to exercise and
have independence in any and all actions of the office.

The new section also requires an annual report from the office of the
UCA to the governor and legislature as, which would be made available
to the public, and would that will include information on all
proceedings that the office of the UCA participated in and the outcome
of such proceedings. Additionally, the report shall include estimated
savings to residential utility customers that resulted from
intervention by the UCA, and lastly any policy recommendations and
suggested statutory amendments that the UCA deems necessary.

Section 2 sets the effective date.

JUSTIFICATION:

Currently more than 40 states and the District of Columbia have an
independent state agency that represents the interests of residential
utility customers. New York is one of few states, and by far the
largest, without such an independent office. In the wake of Superstorm
Sandy, Hurricane Irene, and Tropical Storm Lee, consumers in New York
have been left without a voice and real representation when it comes
to utility services.

This bill would create the State Office of the Utility Consumer
Advocate to serve as an independent advocate and appear on behalf of
New York consumers in state and federal regulatory proceedings, as
well as judicial review proceedings concerning rates and conditions of
public service utilities. Currently consumers in New York are
represented by the Public Service Commission as well as the Utility


Intervention Unit, a division of the Department of State. Neither of
them is able to act solely on behalf of the interest of consumers.

The Public Service Commission mediates the competing interests of
utilities and others in their proceedings to develop facts upon which
their decisions are ultimately based. The utility providers as well as
large commercial and industrial customers have an active and able
presence in such proceedings; however there is a glaring lack of input
from any parties representing consumers. The Utility Intervention Unit
operates under the direction of the Secretary of the State, who has
created a non-statutory subordinate at-will position for the Director
of the Utility Intervention Unit. The Utility Consumer Advocate would
be appointed by the Governor, subject to Senate confirmation, and
would serve a term of six years similar to the Chairman of the Public
Service Commission, Therefore the Utility Consumer Advocate would not
be an at-will employee subject to removal without cause by the
Secretary of State or Governor. This would allow for actual
independent action on behalf of residential consumers without the
concern of removal for such action.

In other states where such an office exists residential consumers have
seen drastic savings in comparison to the actual amount of funding
that goes to these offices. California's Division of Ratepayer
Advocates lobbied over 200 times on behalf of California consumers and
saved them over $4 billion in rates saved and increases avoided; in
fact, they estimate that for every $1 spent representing and
advocating on behalf of California's public utility customers, the
average customer saved $153 per year. The creation of an appointed
advocate with the powers allotted in this bill would give New York
utility customers a voice at the table, save them a considerable
amount of money when it comes to the utilities they use every day.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:

This is a New Bill.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:

None to the State.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

This act shall take effect of the first of April next succeeding the
date on which it shall have become law.
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A06239 Text:

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

                                        6239--B
                                                               Cal. No. 289

                              2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                                 I N  A S S E M B L Y

                                    March 19, 2013
                                      ___________

       Introduced  by  M.  of  A.  DINOWITZ,  PAULIN, BRENNAN, MILLMAN, CRESPO,
         JACOBS, KEARNS, MOSLEY, ROSENTHAL, SEPULVEDA, COLTON,  PERRY,  ZEBROW-
         SKI,  COOK,  GOTTFRIED, MAYER, OTIS, GALEF, JAFFEE, HENNESSEY, CAHILL,
         ABINANTI, HEVESI, STECK, STIRPE, McDONALD, GUNTHER, MONTESANO,  ROBIN-
         SON,  MARKEY,  SKARTADOS,  LUPARDO,  RAIA, BRINDISI, WEPRIN, LIFTON --
         Multi-Sponsored by -- M. of  A.  ARROYO,  CLARK,  ENGLEBRIGHT,  GLICK,
         RIVERA, ROSA, SCHIMEL, THIELE, WEISENBERG -- read once and referred to
         the  Committee  on  Consumer  Affairs  and Protection -- advanced to a
         third reading, amended and ordered reprinted, retaining its  place  on
         the  order of third reading -- again amended on third reading, ordered
         reprinted, retaining its place on the order of third reading

       AN ACT to amend the public service law,  in  relation  to  creating  the
         state office of the utility consumer advocate

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

    1    Section 1.  The public service law is amended by adding a new  article
    2  1-A to read as follows:
    3                                 ARTICLE 1-A
    4              THE STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE
    5  SECTION 28-A. DEFINITIONS.
    6          28-B. ESTABLISHMENT  OF THE STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER
    7                  ADVOCATE.
    8          28-C. POWERS OF THE STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY  CONSUMER  ADVO-
    9                  CATE.
   10          28-D. REPORTS.
   11    S  28-A.  DEFINITIONS.  WHEN  USED IN THIS ARTICLE:   (A) "DEPARTMENT"
   12  MEANS THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SERVICE.
   13    (B) "COMMISSION" MEANS THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION.
   14    (C) "RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMER" MEANS ANY PERSON  WHO  IS  SOLD  OR
   15  OFFERED FOR SALE RESIDENTIAL UTILITY SERVICE BY A UTILITY COMPANY.

        EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                             [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                  LBD09713-07-4
       A. 6239--B                          2

    1    (D)  "UTILITY  COMPANY" MEANS ANY PERSON OR ENTITY OPERATING AN AGENCY
    2  FOR PUBLIC SERVICE, INCLUDING, BUT NOT  LIMITED  TO,  THOSE  PERSONS  OR
    3  ENTITIES  SUBJECT  TO  THE  JURISDICTION,  SUPERVISION  AND  REGULATIONS
    4  PRESCRIBED BY OR PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THIS CHAPTER.
    5    S  28-B.  ESTABLISHMENT  OF  THE  STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER
    6  ADVOCATE. THERE IS ESTABLISHED THE STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY  CONSUMER
    7  ADVOCATE  TO  REPRESENT  THE INTERESTS OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS.
    8  THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE SHALL BE APPOINTED BY THE  GOVERNOR  TO  A
    9  TERM OF SIX YEARS, UPON THE ADVICE AND CONSENT OF THE SENATE. THE UTILI-
   10  TY  CONSUMER  ADVOCATE SHALL POSSESS KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE IN MATTERS
   11  AFFECTING RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS AND SHALL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE
   12  DIRECTION, CONTROL, AND OPERATION OF THE STATE  OFFICE  OF  THE  UTILITY
   13  CONSUMER  ADVOCATE,  INCLUDING  ITS  HIRING  OF  STAFF  AND RETENTION OF
   14  EXPERTS FOR ANALYSIS AND TESTIMONY IN PROCEEDINGS. THE UTILITY  CONSUMER
   15  ADVOCATE  SHALL  NOT BE REMOVED FOR CAUSE, BUT MAY BE REMOVED ONLY AFTER
   16  NOTICE AND OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD, AND ONLY FOR  PERMANENT  DISABILITY,
   17  MALFEASANCE, A FELONY, OR CONDUCT INVOLVING MORAL TURPITUDE. EXERCISE OF
   18  INDEPENDENT  JUDGMENT  IN  ADVOCATING POSITIONS ON BEHALF OF RESIDENTIAL
   19  UTILITY CUSTOMERS SHALL NOT CONSTITUTE CAUSE FOR REMOVAL OF THE  UTILITY
   20  CONSUMER ADVOCATE.
   21    S  28-C.  POWERS OF THE STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE.
   22  THE STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE SHALL HAVE  THE  POWER
   23  AND  DUTY  TO:  (A)  INITIATE, INTERVENE IN, OR PARTICIPATE ON BEHALF OF
   24  RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS IN ANY PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE  COMMISSION,
   25  THE  FEDERAL  ENERGY  REGULATORY  COMMISSION, THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS
   26  COMMISSION, FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL ADMINISTRATIVE AND REGULATORY AGEN-
   27  CIES, AND STATE AND FEDERAL COURTS IN ANY MATTER OR PROCEEDING THAT  MAY
   28  SUBSTANTIALLY  AFFECT  THE  INTERESTS  OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS,
   29  INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, A  PROPOSED  CHANGE  OF  RATES,  CHARGES,
   30  TERMS  AND  CONDITIONS  OF  SERVICE, THE ADOPTION OF RULES, REGULATIONS,
   31  GUIDELINES, ORDERS, STANDARDS OR FINAL POLICY DECISIONS WHERE THE UTILI-
   32  TY CONSUMER ADVOCATE DEEMS  SUCH  INITIATION,  INTERVENTION  OR  PARTIC-
   33  IPATION TO BE NECESSARY OR APPROPRIATE;
   34    (B)  REPRESENT  THE  INTERESTS OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS OF THE
   35  STATE BEFORE FEDERAL, STATE  AND  LOCAL  ADMINISTRATIVE  AND  REGULATORY
   36  AGENCIES ENGAGED IN THE REGULATION OF ENERGY, TELECOMMUNICATIONS, WATER,
   37  AND  OTHER  UTILITY  SERVICES,  AND  BEFORE  STATE AND FEDERAL COURTS IN
   38  ACTIONS AND PROCEEDINGS TO REVIEW THE ACTIONS OF UTILITIES OR ORDERS  OF
   39  UTILITY  REGULATORY  AGENCIES.  ANY  ACTION OR PROCEEDING BROUGHT BY THE
   40  UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE BEFORE A COURT OR AN AGENCY SHALL  BE  BROUGHT
   41  IN  THE  NAME  OF THE STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE. THE
   42  UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE MAY JOIN WITH A RESIDENTIAL  UTILITY  CUSTOMER
   43  OR GROUP OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS IN BRINGING AN ACTION;
   44    (C)  (I) IN ADDITION TO ANY OTHER AUTHORITY CONFERRED UPON THE UTILITY
   45  CONSUMER ADVOCATE, HE OR SHE IS AUTHORIZED, AND IT SHALL BE HIS  OR  HER
   46  DUTY  TO  REPRESENT  THE INTERESTS OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS AS A
   47  PARTY, OR OTHERWISE PARTICIPATE FOR  THE  PURPOSE  OF  REPRESENTING  THE
   48  INTERESTS OF SUCH CUSTOMERS BEFORE ANY AGENCIES OR COURTS. HE OR SHE MAY
   49  INITIATE PROCEEDINGS IF IN HIS OR HER JUDGMENT DOING SO MAY BE NECESSARY
   50  IN  CONNECTION  WITH  ANY  MATTER INVOLVING THE ACTIONS OR REGULATION OF
   51  PUBLIC UTILITY COMPANIES WHETHER ON APPEAL OR OTHERWISE  INITIATED.  THE
   52  UTILITY  CONSUMER ADVOCATE MAY MONITOR ALL CASES BEFORE REGULATORY AGEN-
   53  CIES IN THE UNITED STATES, INCLUDING THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS  COMMIS-
   54  SION AND THE FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION THAT AFFECT THE INTER-
   55  ESTS  OF  RESIDENTIAL  UTILITY  CUSTOMERS  OF THE STATE AND MAY FORMALLY
       A. 6239--B                          3

    1  PARTICIPATE IN THOSE PROCEEDINGS WHICH IN HIS OR HER  JUDGMENT  WARRANTS
    2  SUCH PARTICIPATION.
    3    (II) THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE SHALL EXERCISE HIS OR HER INDEPEND-
    4  ENT  DISCRETION  IN  DETERMINING  THE  INTERESTS  OF RESIDENTIAL UTILITY
    5  CUSTOMERS THAT WILL BE ADVOCATED  IN  ANY  PROCEEDING,  AND  DETERMINING
    6  WHETHER  TO  PARTICIPATE IN OR INITIATE ANY PROCEEDING AND, IN SO DETER-
    7  MINING, SHALL CONSIDER THE PUBLIC INTEREST, THE RESOURCES AVAILABLE, AND
    8  THE SUBSTANTIALITY OF THE EFFECT OF THE PROCEEDING ON  THE  INTEREST  OF
    9  RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CUSTOMERS;
   10    (D)  REQUEST  AND  RECEIVE  FROM ANY STATE OR LOCAL AUTHORITY, AGENCY,
   11  DEPARTMENT OR DIVISION  OF  THE  STATE  OR  POLITICAL  SUBDIVISION  SUCH
   12  ASSISTANCE,  PERSONNEL, INFORMATION, BOOKS, RECORDS, OTHER DOCUMENTATION
   13  AND COOPERATION NECESSARY TO PERFORM ITS DUTIES; AND
   14    (E) ENTER INTO COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS WITH OTHER GOVERNMENT OFFICES TO
   15  EFFICIENTLY CARRY OUT ITS WORK.
   16    S 28-D. REPORTS. ON JULY FIRST,  TWO  THOUSAND  FIFTEEN  AND  ANNUALLY
   17  THEREAFTER,  THE  STATE  OFFICE  OF  THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE SHALL
   18  ISSUE A REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR AND THE LEGISLATURE, AND MAKE SUCH REPORT
   19  AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC FREE OF CHARGE ON A PUBLICLY AVAILABLE  WEBSITE,
   20  CONTAINING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION:
   21    (A)  ALL  PROCEEDINGS  THAT  THE  STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER
   22  ADVOCATE PARTICIPATED IN AND THE OUTCOME OF  SUCH  PROCEEDINGS,  TO  THE
   23  EXTENT OF SUCH OUTCOME AND IF NOT CONFIDENTIAL;
   24    (B)  ESTIMATED  SAVINGS TO RESIDENTIAL UTILITY CONSUMERS THAT RESULTED
   25  FROM INTERVENTION BY THE STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER  ADVOCATE;
   26  AND
   27    (C) POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS AND SUGGESTED STATUTORY AMENDMENTS THAT THE
   28  STATE OFFICE OF THE UTILITY CONSUMER ADVOCATE DEEMS NECESSARY.
   29    S  2. This act shall take effect on the first of April next succeeding
   30  the date on which it shall have become a law.
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