The prospect of a rate increase for PSEG Long Island customers in 2016 has energized the state AARP and local seniors to demand establishment of an independent utility advocate for consumers to push back in rate cases and other matters.
Seniors and AARP leaders are scheduled to rally Wednesday morning at the Rockville Centre offices of State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) to demand that the senate include setting up the consumer advocate in its budget bill.
A State Assembly bill last year called for the establishment of the independent utility consumer advocate office by vastly increasing the powers of an existing utility intervention office in the Department of State.
The office would gain the authority to file lawsuits against the Public Service Commission or other bodies that approve rate increases. In the case of PSEG Long Island ratepayers, changes in the delivery charge are reviewed and recommended by the PSC, but ultimately passed by the Long Island Power Authority. The advocate would work on behalf of all state utility ratepayers.
“There is an uneven playing field in New York State when it comes to utility rates,” said Bill Ferris, AARP’s legislative representative. “We need an independent voice in New York.”
AARP in recent days has sent mailers to hundreds of thousands of Long Island residents urging them to call legislative leaders to pass the bills.