AARP & PULP: Utility Regulators Take Key Steps to Protect NYers During, After Pandemic

Posted on 06/17/20

Senior couple paying bills at home

ALBANY, N.Y.— AARP New York and the Public Utility Law Project (PULP) today praised state utility regulators for three key actions to protect New York utility consumers during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

AARP and PULP applauded the state Public Service Commission (PSC) for:

· Opening a case to address the severe financial hardships New York utility consumers are confronting resulting from the impacts of COVID-19, including rates, low-income programs and power shutoffs;

· Requiring a more than doubling of low-income bill discounts to help Con Edison consumers fight the summer heat, especially with the pandemic limiting access to cooling centers in New York City.

· Approving a temporary suspension of disconnections of gas service by Brooklyn Union Gas Company and KeySpan Gas East Corporation during the pandemic, with the companies, doing business as National Grid, agreeing to postpone previously negotiated higher rates from going into effect for another three months, until November 1.

AARP and PULP are also urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill - now on his desk – to prohibit utility shutoffs to customers who can’t pay their bills because of lost income due to the pandemic. Under the legislation (S.8113A-Parker/A.10521-Mosley), terminations would be prohibited during and for up to six months after the pandemic. The Governor has until the middle of next week to act on the bill.

“Older New Yorkers, low- and moderate-income New Yorkers and disabled households should at the very least not pay more than current rates until the economy recovers,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “We thank the PSC – and the Governor for helping prod the commission - to pursue this new case, ensure financially struggling Con Edison customers don’t have to worry about running the air conditioner in the summer heat, and easing the concerns of Eastern New Yorkers about a gas rate hike.”

”Under the Governor’s leadership, New York flattened the curve and took difficult but necessary actions to protect all New Yorkers,” said PULP Executive Director Richard Berkley, “and today’s motions by the PSC shows continued dedication to that end. We thank the Governor and PSC for acting to continue to allow people to stay safe by remaining inside through making air-conditioning more affordable for disabled, low-income, medically fragile and senior households in addition to starting an investigation on how to avert rate increases and lower rates during the economic crisis, which will ultimately affect millions of New Yorkers even after the pandemic ends.”

Follow AARP New York on Twitter: @AARPNY and Facebook: AARP New York

Follow PULP on Twitter: @UtilityProject and Facebook: UtilityProject

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.

The Public Utility Law Project of New York, Inc. (“PULP”) is a nonprofit public interest law firm with the mission of educating, advocating and litigating on behalf of low- and fixed-income utility consumers in matters affecting affordability, universal service, and consumer protection. Learn more at www.utilityproject.org, or www.facebook.com/utilityproject, and follow us on Twitter @utilityproject.

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You can find CDC’s latest coronavirus information at cdc.gov/coronavirus; AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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