Tonawanda News

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April 30, 2013

AARP pushes for utility oversight

Tonawanda News — New Yorkers young and old want more equitable utility rates and a state oversight process, according to a recent poll conducted on behalf of the AARP, an advocacy group for seniors. 

A Siena Research Institute study found solid support among taxpayers over the age of 18 for legislation that would require an independent utility consumer advocate office in New York state, with rate hike and telecom industry regulatory issues brought before the Public Service Commission. 

Beth Finkel, director of AARP New York said the PSC’s regulatory proceedings will continue to be flawed without the full residential ratepayer representation by an independent consumer advocate this legislation provides, adding that 40 other states across the country have established independent offices. 

“This survey found New Yorkers are sick and tired of soaring bills and they want their lawmakers to do something about it. New York has got to catch up with the rest of the nation,” she said. “New Yorkers are getting hammered by soaring energy bills and utility companies have the money, resources and muscle to push these bills even higher with another rate hike. Consumers lack, literally, all of those tools in New York state, and it’s time to change the game.” 

Legislation supporting the measure has already been introduced in both the state Senate and Assembly, Finkel said, with Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz, D-Bronx, and Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island, sponsoring respective bills. 

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