AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel issued the following statement today on the New York State Senate’s passage of a bill to establish an independent utility consumer advocate from Harlem to the Hudson:
“The Senate took a great step today for New York’s overburdened utility consumers, who pay among the highest residential electric rates in the nation.
“New York would join many other states that already provide an independent utility consumer advocate for their residents if the legislation the Senate passed today becomes law. This is the first time the Senate has passed this bill, and AARP applauds the bill’s sponsor, Senator Diane Savino, for her persistence. The Assembly has passed it each of the past five years, and AARP is calling on the Assembly to pass Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz’s bill again so it can be sent to the Governor.
“The need for an independent advocate to push back when utility companies push for 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 can and do use their customers’ money to hire lawyers and experts who push regulators to increase rates on those same customers – while consumers have no one at the table arguing solely for their interests.
“With Con Edison and National Grid proposing rate increases that would amount to over $2 billion on ratepayers over the next three years, it’s time to level the playing field.”