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AARP NY & PULP: State Budget Must Tackle New York’s $1.6 Billion Energy Affordability Problem

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AARP NY & PULP: State Budget Must Tackle New York’s $1.6 Billion Energy Affordability Problem

ALBANY, N.Y. – Today, AARP New York and the Public Utility Law Project (PULP) called on Governor Hochul and the State Legislature to protect an energy discount program and include other measures in the 2024-2025 state budget to help struggling households pay their utility bills and address New York State’s energy affordability problem.

According to the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC), more than 1.3 million gas and electric utility customers were 60 days late on payments in February, and nearly 310,000 faced service termination (see chart below). This represents nearly $1.6 billion in unpaid bills. These numbers require bold actions to offer customers relief and keep them from falling farther behind.

“Governor Hochul and the State Legislature have led the nation in addressing head-on the energy affordability crisis that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Beth Finkel, AARP New York State Director. “We now call on our leaders to continue this leadership and include our proposed additional affordability measures in the final state budget.”

“Under the leadership of Governor Hochul and the State Legislature, our state has made significant strides to address the ongoing energy affordability crisis,” said Laurie Wheelock, PULP Executive Director and Counsel. “As budget negotiations continue, PULP urges New York to build upon that momentum and embrace our four-point affordability plan. PULP stands ready to work with all stakeholders on a final budget that firmly addresses energy affordability and ensures a just energy transition for all New Yorkers.”

AARP and PULP call on the Governor and Legislature to include in the final state budget:

1.     Codify the Energy Affordability Program:
In May 2016, the (PSC) established a policy that no low-income household should spend more than 6% of their monthly income on their energy bills. Each utility administers a monthly bill discount, known as the Energy Affordability Program (EAP), designed to achieve the state’s policy goal. The enacted budget should codify the EAP and 6% energy burden standard for low-income households to enhance the program’s stability, consistency and capacity to serve New Yorkers now and in the future.

2.     Appropriate $200 Million to the Energy Affordability Program:
In 2023, the utility data matching legislation was signed into law. Once implemented in 2025, a significant number of eligible households will be automatically enrolled in their utility’s EAP. The EAP is currently paid for exclusively by ratepayers with funding for the program capped at 2% of utility revenues, and many utilities are already at or near their cap. To mitigate any shortfalls that could result in a reduction of much-needed benefits, the enacted budget should also include an appropriation of $200 million to the EAP. This proactive and protective measure will preserve the EAP’s current effectiveness and make way for enhanced enrollment through the data match program.

3.     Uphold $50 Million to the EmPower+ Energy Affordability Guarantee:
Last year’s enacted budget provided a one-time appropriation of $200 million to assist low-income households with the costs of home electrification and other energy efficiency modifications. Governor Hochul also proposed an accompanying benefit, the Energy Affordability Guarantee (EAG), which would provide any households that fully electrify their homes with a benefit akin to the EAP. The enacted budget should maintain the Executive’s proposed $50 million appropriation to the EAG to provide ongoing financial support to vulnerable households.

4.     Produce an Annual Energy Affordability Study:
New York State should produce an annual update on energy affordability, expanding and building upon the insights gained from the Climate Affordability Study released in 2023. Such a report will provide a comprehensive assessment of energy affordability programming across the state and facilitate informed decision-making about program modifications and the development of new initiatives aimed at supporting New York’s ratepayers. This annual report would serve as a vital tool for the Legislature, Governor, and the public as we work to achieve our climate goals and ensure a just transition.

Connect with AARP New York on X: @AARPNY and Facebook: AARP New York

Connect with PULP on Facebook: Public Utility Law Project of New York

About AARP  
AARP is the nation's largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to the more than 100 million Americans 50-plus and their families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the nation's largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org/about-aarp/, www.aarp.org/español or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspañol and @AARPadvocates on social media.


About PULP  PULP is New York’s sole independent organization dedicated to empowering and protecting the rights of low income and fixed-income utility consumers. For 40 years, PULP has educated, advocated and litigated on behalf of affordability, consumer protection and universal access to utilities. To learn more, visit www.utilityproject.org, follow @utilityproject on Twitter, or visit PULP at www.facebook.com/utilityproject  

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