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Veto of Independent Utility Consumer Advocate Bill Unfair for Ratepayers; AARP Urges Governor to Oppose Con Ed Hike

AARP NY Pledges to Keep Fighting to Level Playing Field for Consumers

Worried couple interacting while checking the bills
istockphoto/Wavebreakmedia

ALBANY, N.Y. – AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel issued the following statement today on the Governor’s veto of legislation to establish an independent utility consumer advocate:

“This veto is unfair for all New Yorkers who struggle to pay their utility bills and lack a real, independent voice when utility companies push to raise already high rates - like Con Ed is trying to do right now.”

“The Governor claims an office of utility consumer advocate would duplicate two existing state entities, but neither entity he cites is independent and neither has the power to challenge unfair rate increases in court.

“New Yorkers pay among the highest residential electric rates in the nation, and this veto leaves us without an independent advocate fighting for us when rate hikes are on the table – as many other states already have.

“The current proposal for a double-digit Con Edison energy delivery rate hike that would raise utility bills by $1.2 billion over the next three years is Exhibit A of the need for an independent utility consumer advocate.

“Governor Cuomo should oppose this hike and fight for a fairer deal for New York City and Westchester consumers.

“Next year, it might be Long Island or Buffalo facing a big rate; the need to push back on any unfair rate hikes will only grow as our population ages and more and more retired and older New Yorkers face ever-rising utility bills on fixed or limited incomes.

“It’s galling that utility companies use their customers’ money to hire lawyers and experts who push regulators to increase rates on those same customers – while consumers have virtually no one at the table arguing solely for their interests. Connecticut’s Office of Consumer Counsel saved utility consumers $550 million in 2017-18 alone through court actions and other advocacy, according to the office’s most recent annual report.

“The playing field is uneven in New York. AARP will continue to fight to level it. The Governor needs to level this uneven playing field and make sure ratepayers get a fair deal.”

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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 nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on 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 world’s largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.

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