ALBANY, New York - Statement by AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel:
“Speaker Heastie, Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee Chair Jeffrey Dinowitz and the Assembly are acting to protect New York’s overburdened residential utility ratepayers by including a strong, independent utility consumer advocate and funding for intervenors in their state budget proposal.
“New York is home to some of the highest residential electric rates in the nation, yet we’re one of just 10 states without an independent and meaningful voice protecting residential ratepayers.
“We don’t think high rates and lack of consumer representation are a coincidence. AARP believes the Assembly’s proposal would level a playing field currently tilted too much in favor of utility companies that spare little expense in pressing for rate hikes – expenses they pass on to the ratepayers themselves.
“The Assembly’s plan would be a game-changer by creating an independent utility consumer advocate with the power to contest unfair rate hikes and by providing funding to community-based residential consumer groups to challenge unreasonable increases. Utility consumer advocates in other states save their residents billions of dollars a year in reduced or avoided rate hikes - in some cases saving hundreds of dollars for every dollar they cost.
“AARP is strongly urging the Senate and Governor Cuomo to recognize the need to give utility consumers a voice by ensuring these proposals are part of a final state budget.”
Note: The proposal is outlined on pages 62-65 of A6005 and the appropriation is on page 623 of A.6000:
7 For services and expenses of the State
8 Office of the Utility Consumer Advocate ........ 500,000
9 For services and expenses of interveners for
10 consumer advocacy in utility matters ......... 1,000,000
12 Total amount available ....................... 1,500,000
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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 .