Assemblyman Santabarbara Helps Pass Bill to Advocate for Utility Customers

In an effort to protect and represent the interests of residential utility customers, Angelo Santabarbara (D-Rotterdam) announced that legislation to establish the New York State Office of the Utility Consumer Advocate (UCA) passed the New York State Assembly (A.6239-B). New York is currently one of the few states that does not have independent state agency to represent the interests of residential utility customers.

“High utility costs are burdening our already strained working-class families. A consumer advocate would give customers a real say, helping them save money on utilities while holding providers accountable,” said Assemblyman Santabarbara. “Commercial customers and utility companies have long had representation. It’s time our hardworking families had the same.”

Currently, consumers in New York State are represented by the Public Service Commission and the Utility Intervention Unit – neither of which are able to act exclusively on behalf of the interests of consumers. Specifically, this bill would create an independent advocate to represent residential utility consumers in state and federal regulatory proceedings in matters that may substantially affect the consumers, such as proposed rate changes. The UCA would be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate to serve a six-year term.

Additionally, this legislation would require the UCA to issue a public report outlining the proceedings that the advocate participated in, the outcome of those proceedings and the estimated savings that resulted for residential utility consumers, Assemblyman Santabarbara noted.