New Budget Rejects Utility Watchdog for Consumers; Most Other States Offer Consumers an Advocate to Fight for Reasonable Rates
Statement by Beth Finkel, State Director for AARP in New York State:
“AARP is disappointed and extremely concerned for our 2.6 million members and all New Yorkers that the new state budget does too little to combat soaring utility rates.
“New Yorkers pay among the highest residential electric rates in the nation and bills have skyrocketed recently because of this past winter’s cold snap, threatening many older New Yorkers’ fragile kitchen table economies. It’s unconscionable to leave older New Yorkers on fixed and limited incomes struggling to afford their utilities and too often having to choose between food, medicine and energy.
“The vast majority of states have an independent utility consumer advocate with the power to sue over unfair rate hikes – but not New York. Here, utilities spare little expense – and pass those expenses on to their customers – in pushing regulators for rate hikes, but residential consumers will continue to have virtually no ability to push back.
“New Yorkers deserve better. AARP applauds Assembly Speaker Silver, Senate Co-Leader Klein and their conferences for fighting to establish an independent utility consumer advocate. We stand ready to work with them, all of our legislators and the Governor to tackle this problem during the remainder of the 2014 legislative session.”
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services. A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world’s largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity of AARP that is working to win back opportunity for struggling Americans 50+ by being a force for change on the most serious issues they face today: housing, hunger, income and isolation. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.