S03605 Summary:

Add §24-c, Pub Serv L; add §97-ssss, St Fin L
Relates to utility intervenor reimbursement.
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S03605 Actions:

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S03605 Committee Votes:

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S03605 Floor Votes:

There are no votes for this bill in this legislative session.
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S03605 Text:

                STATE OF NEW YORK
                               2019-2020 Regular Sessions
                    IN SENATE
                                    February 11, 2019
        Introduced  by  Sen.  PARKER -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
          printed to be committed to the Committee on  Energy  and  Telecommuni-
        AN  ACT to amend the public service law, in relation to utility interve-
          nor reimbursement; and to amend the state finance law, in relation  to
          establishing the utility intervenor account

          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  section
     2  24-c to read as follows:
     3    §  24-c.    Utility  intervenor  reimbursement.  1.    As used in this
     4  section, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
     5    (a) "Compensation" means payment from the utility  intervenor  account
     6  fund  established by section ninety-seven-ssss of the state finance law,
     7  for all or part, as determined by the department,  of  reasonable  advo-
     8  cate's  fees, reasonable expert witness fees, and other reasonable costs
     9  for preparation and participation in a proceeding.
    10    (b) "Participant" means a group of persons that apply jointly  for  an
    11  award of compensation under this section and who represent the interests
    12  of a significant number of residential or small business customers, or a
    13  not-for-profit  organization  in  this  state authorized pursuant to its
    14  articles of incorporation or bylaws to represent the interests of  resi-
    15  dential  or  small  business  utility  customers.  For  purposes of this
    16  section, a participant does not include  a  non-profit  organization  or
    17  other organization whose principal interests are the welfare of a public
    18  utility  or  its  investors  or employees, or the welfare of one or more
    19  businesses or industries which receive utility  service  ordinarily  and
    20  primarily  for  use  in  connection with the profit-seeking manufacture,
    21  sale, or distribution of goods or services.
    22    (c) "Other reasonable costs" means reasonable  out-of-pocket  expenses
    23  directly  incurred  by  a  participant  that are directly related to the
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.

        S. 3605                             2
     1  contentions or recommendations made by the participant that resulted  in
     2  a substantial contribution.
     3    (d)  "Party" means any interested party, respondent public utility, or
     4  commission staff in a hearing or proceeding.
     5    (e) "Proceeding" means a complaint, or investigation,  rulemaking,  or
     6  other  formal  proceeding  before the commission, or alternative dispute
     7  resolution procedures in lieu of formal proceedings as may be  sponsored
     8  or  endorsed  by the commission, provided however such proceedings shall
     9  be limited to those arising under and proceeding pursuant to the follow-
    10  ing articles of this chapter: (1) the regulation of the price of gas and
    11  electricity, pursuant to article four of this  chapter;  (2)  the  regu-
    12  lation  of  the price of steam, pursuant to article four-A of this chap-
    13  ter; (3) the submetering, remetering or resale of electricity  to  resi-
    14  dential  premises, pursuant to sections sixty-five and sixty-six of this
    15  chapter, and pursuant to regulations regarding the submetering, remeter-
    16  ing, or resale of electricity adopted by the commission;  and  (4)  such
    17  sections  of this chapter as are applicable to a proceeding in which the
    18  commission makes a finding  on  the  record  that  the  public  interest
    19  requires  the  reimbursement of utility intervenor fees pursuant to this
    20  section.
    21    (f) "Significant financial hardship" means that the  participant  will
    22  be  unable to afford, without undue hardship, to pay the costs of effec-
    23  tive participation, including advocate's fees, expert witness fees,  and
    24  other reasonable costs of participation.
    25    (g)  "Small  business" means a business with a gross annual revenue of
    26  two hundred fifty thousand dollars or less.
    27    (h) "Substantial contribution" means that,  in  the  judgment  of  the
    28  department,  the  participant's application may substantially assist the
    29  commission in making its decision because  the  decision  may  adopt  in
    30  whole  or in part one or more factual contentions, legal contentions, or
    31  specific policy or procedural recommendations that will be presented  by
    32  the participant.
    33    2.  A  participant  may  apply for an award of compensation under this
    34  section in a proceeding in which  such  participant  has  sought  active
    35  party  status  as defined by the department. The department shall deter-
    36  mine appropriate procedures for accepting and responding to such  appli-
    37  cations.    At  the time of application, such participant shall serve on
    38  every party to the proceeding notice of intent to apply for an award  of
    39  compensation.
    40    An application shall include:
    41    (a)  A  statement  of  the nature and extent and the factual and legal
    42  basis of the participant's planned participation in  the  proceeding  as
    43  far  as  it  is  possible to describe such participation with reasonable
    44  specificity at the time the application is filed.
    45    (b) At minimum, a reasonably detailed description of anticipated advo-
    46  cates and expert witness fees and other costs of preparation and partic-
    47  ipation that the participant expects to request as compensation.
    48    (c) If participation or intervention will impose a significant  finan-
    49  cial  hardship  and the participant seeks payment in advance to an award
    50  of compensation in order to initiate, continue or complete participation
    51  in the hearing or proceeding, such participant must include evidence  of
    52  such significant financial hardship in its application.
    53    (d) Any other requirements as required by the department.
    54    3.  (a)  Within  thirty  days  after  the filing of an application the
    55  department shall issue a decision that determines  whether  or  not  the
    56  participant may make a substantial contribution to the final decision in

        S. 3605                             3
     1  the  hearing or proceeding. If the department finds that the participant
     2  requesting compensation may make a substantial contribution, the depart-
     3  ment shall describe this  substantial  contribution  and  determine  the
     4  amount  of  compensation to be paid pursuant to subdivision four of this
     5  section.
     6    (b) Notwithstanding subdivision four of this section, if  the  depart-
     7  ment  finds  that  the participant has a significant financial hardship,
     8  the department may direct the public utility or utilities subject to the
     9  proceeding to pay all or part of the compensation to the  department  to
    10  be  provided  to  the participant prior to the end of the proceeding. In
    11  the event that the participant discontinues  its  participation  in  the
    12  proceeding  without  the consent of the department, the department shall
    13  be entitled to, in whole or in part, recover any payments made  to  such
    14  participant  to  be  refunded  to  the  public utility or utilities that
    15  provided such payment.
    16    (c) The computation of compensation pursuant to paragraph (a) of  this
    17  subdivision  shall  take  into  consideration  the  market rates paid to
    18  persons  of  comparable  training  and  experience  who  offer   similar
    19  services.  The  compensation  awarded  may  not, in any case, exceed the
    20  comparable market rate for services paid by the department or the public
    21  utility, whichever is greater, to persons  of  comparable  training  and
    22  experience who are offering similar services.
    23    (d)  Any  compensation  awarded  to a participant and not used by such
    24  participant shall be returned to the department for refund to the public
    25  utility or utilities that provided such payment.
    26    (e) The department shall require  that  participants  seeking  payment
    27  maintain  an itemized record of all expenditures incurred as a result of
    28  such proceeding.
    29    (i) The department may use the itemized record of expenses  to  verify
    30  the  claim of financial hardship by a participant seeking payment pursu-
    31  ant to paragraph (c) of subdivision two of this section.
    32    (ii) The department may use the record of expenditures in determining,
    33  after the completion of a proceeding, if any unused funds remain.
    34    (iii) The department shall preserve the confidentiality of the partic-
    35  ipant's records in making any audit or determining the  availability  of
    36  funds after the completion of a proceeding.
    37    (f)  In  the  event that the department finds that two or more partic-
    38  ipants' applications have substantially similar interests,  the  depart-
    39  ment  may require such participants to apply jointly in order to receive
    40  compensation.
    41    4. Any compensation pursuant to this section  shall  be  paid  at  the
    42  conclusion  of the proceeding by the public utility or utilities subject
    43  to the proceeding within thirty days. Such compensation shall be  remit-
    44  ted  to  the  department which shall then remit such compensation to the
    45  participant.
    46    5. The department shall deny any award to any participant who attempts
    47  to delay or obstruct the orderly and timely fulfillment of  the  depart-
    48  ment's responsibilities.
    49    §  2. The state finance law is amended by adding a new section 97-ssss
    50  to read as follows:
    51    § 97-ssss. Utility intervenor account. 1. There is hereby  established
    52  in  the  joint  custody of the state comptroller and the commissioner of
    53  taxation and finance a fund  to  be  known  as  the  utility  intervenor
    54  account.

        S. 3605                             4
     1    2.  Such account shall consist of all utility intervenor reimbursement
     2  monies received from utilities pursuant to section twenty-four-c of  the
     3  public service law.
     4    §  3.  This  act shall take effect on the thirtieth day after it shall
     5  have become a law.
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