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Charged NY Consumers 14% More than Utility Companies, Federal Data Shows

ALBANY, N.Y. – With federal data showing New York’s energy service companies charged the highest residential electric prices in the nation last year – and 14% more than New York’s utility companies – AARP today called on state regulators to hold a hearing into unfair pricing.

U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data shows 2014 was no fluke; New York consumers paid at least 6.7% more to buy their electricity from ESCOs every year going back to 2008, and 5% more in 2007, the data shows.

On average, New Yorkers who used 300 kilowatt hours of electricity per month – typical for a New York City apartment-dweller – paid over $100 more last year if they bought from an ESCO instead of from their local utility company.

“ESCOs promise consumers a discount on their power but too often charge more than the local utility company,” said Beth Finkel, State Director of AARP for New York State. “They have the dubious distinction of charging the highest residential electric prices in the nation. AARP is calling on state regulators to investigate this outrage thoroughly.”

New Yorkers’ average residential electric bills (including both utility companies and ESCOs) were the highest in the continental United States last year and 60% above the national average – 20.07 cents per kilowatt hour vs. 12.52 cents.

The average residential electric price of 22.28 cents per kwh for New York’s “restructured retail service providers” (ESCOs) was 51% higher than the 14.72 cent average in the 20 states with ESCOs, and 14% above the 19.52 cents per kwh average New York consumers paid to “full service providers” (utility companies), according to the EIA data (see “1990-2013 Average Price by State by Provider (EIA-861)”).

Finkel said older utility consumers in particular, many of whom are on fixed or limited incomes and spend a disproportionately high percentage of their income to keep the lights and heat on, can ill afford to pay any more than they have to.

In fact, more than half of New York’s Generation X and Baby Boomer voters expressed concern about their ability to pay their utility bills in the coming years, according to a 2015 statewide survey commissioned by AARP.

In a proceeding before the energy-regulating state Public Service Commission (PSC) involving ESCOs this fall, AARP echoed a call by New York’s Utility Project (formerly the Public Utility Law Project, or PULP) for an evidentiary hearing on ESCO pricing.

AARP itself is now explicitly calling on the PSC for such a hearing.

Average New York residential electric costs in cents per kilowatt hour from ESCOs and utility companies

 

YEAR, ESCO, UTILITY, DIFFERENCE

 

2014: 22.28, 19.52, 14.1%

2013: 20.12, 18.46, 9%

2012: 18.83, 17.33, 8.7%

2011: 19.27, 18.06, 6.7%

2010: 20.03, 18.51, 8.2%

2009: 19.64, 17.16, 14.5%

2008: 20.89, 17.98, 16.2%

2007: 17.87, 17.01, 5%

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Contact: Erik Kriss, ekriss@aarp.org

Follow us on Twitter:  @AARPNY and Facebook: AARP New York

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

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