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.”
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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