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Governor, Senate Need to Stand Up for Consumers

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Public Utility Law Project and AARP today issued the following joint statement by PULP Executive Director Richard Berkley and AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel on the State Assembly’s inclusion of $350,000 for an independent Utility Consumer Advocate Office and funding for PULP and other consumer advocacy groups in its one-house 2017-18 state budget proposal:

“PULP and AARP applaud the Assembly for once again stepping up for New York’s overburdened utility consumers.

New Yorkers regularly pay among the highest residential electric bills in the nation. Yet we remain the largest of just 10 states without an independent utility consumer advocate to push back when utility companies spend over $10 million a year in ratepayers’ own money to push for rate increases.

AARP surveys consistently show high utility bills put a strain on the finances of New York’s Generation Xers and Baby Boomers.

PULP’s research similarly shows how high utility bills burden New York’s low-income and fixed-income residents.

Speaker Heastie, Assemblyman Dinowitz and the Assembly are leaders on this issue, which is of particular concern for retirees and those on fixed incomes who must devote a higher portion of their income than younger New Yorkers to this basic life necessity. We need the Senate and Governor to recognize that an independent advocate who could stand toe to toe with the utility industry and go to the courts to fight unfair rate hikes would save consumers real money.

We also applaud the Assembly for understanding that funding PULP and other consumer groups is essential for them to continue their vital advocacy on behalf of the state’s low-income residents.”

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 nearly 38 million that helps people turn their goals and dreams into ‘Real Possibilities’ by changing the way America defines aging. With staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and promote the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare security, financial security and personal fulfillment. AARP also advocates for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name.  As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the world’s largest circulation magazine, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and our CEO @JoAnn_Jenkins on Twitter.

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