Assemblymember Lavine: Exorbitant PSC 26% Rate Increase for New York American Water Must be Delayed Indefinitely

Glen Cove, NY — New York State Assemblymember Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) has sent a letter to the New York State Public Service Commission calling for an indefinite delay of the 26% rate increase granted to New York American Water scheduled to be imposed on May 1, 2021.

“New York American ratepayers already pay some of the highest fees for water in the nation,” says Lavine: “The PSC approved the 26% increase and now advises that it cannot delay that outrageous increase.This is clearly against the public interest!”

Working with the Public Service Commission, the State Senate on April 20, 2021, passed a bill (S989A) that (1) liberates New York American Water from paying a $30 million special franchise tax and (2) establishes a proposed framework for establishment of a public Nassau County water utility entity.”

“This legislative proposal deserves serious consideration, which it is receiving in the Assembly.We all want to make sure that the $30 million that New York American is excused from paying will be fairly and equitably made up for.In the end, that amount has to be paid by non-New York Water customers,” said Lavine:“My letter proposes that it would be far more equitable and fair for the State of New York to simply absorb that $30 million, which is a drop in the bucket in a State budget of $212 billion.”

New York American bought Aqua, its predecessor, for about $62 million, $39 million cash and $23 million in assumed Aqua debt, in 2012.The PSC has approved the sale of New York American to Liberty Utilities of Canada for $607 million.In 2016, New York American shares sold for $50.Today, those shares are on the market for $161.13. 

“With that incredible return on investment,” says Lavine, “It is very difficult for me to understand why a 26% rate increase was granted.That increase must be delayed until such time as the Assembly and the Senate conclude negotiations relative to the creation of a Nassau Countywide public water delivery system.”

Lavine’s letter is attached.

Assemblymember Charles Lavine represents New York’s 13th Assembly District in Nassau County. He presently serves as Chair of the Judiciary Committee and is a member of the Committee on Codes, Ethics and Guidance, Rules and Insurance. Lavine previously served as Chair of the Election Law Committee, Chair of the Committee on Ethics and Guidance, co-Chair of the New York State Legislative Ethics Commission and as Chair of the bipartisan Taskforce that produced the Assembly Speaker’s Policy on Sexual Harassment, Retaliation and Discrimination.