Elected officials recently wrote to PSC Chairman Garry A. Brown and NYSERDA President Francis Murray to express their concerns over submetering, referencing several cases in which submetering at former Mitchell-Lama projects owned by Urban America has been stayed by PSC orders. Their letter states, in part
We are writing in regard to the ongoing policy discussions surrounding residential submetering of electricity. **** [A]n assessment should include new independent research into the level of energy savings actually achieved through submetering, which may until recently have been overestimated, and should take into account the impact of the submetering policies of PSC, NYSERDA, DHCR and other agencies on (i) tenants in buildings that are submetered, (ii) energy efficiency incentives for owners after they have transferred responsibility for electric bills to tenants through submetering, (iii) other public agencies required to provide utility subsidies when electric bill burdens are imposed on lower income tenants, and (iv) the public interest.
We are troubled that Urban American or other owners may be pursuing conversion to submetering in their apartment portfolios in a determined attempt to shift energy costs and price risks onto tenants who lack the income or savings to afford them, or means to address them through efficiency measures. ****
We also worry that Urban American and other owners will use PSC permission to submeter as a lever to enhance revenue streams by displacing tenants from housing now affordable to them, and converting the units to more expensive, market rate rentals. ****
Additionally, we are concerned that during the submetering process at the Urban American buildings and elsewhere, tenants have been denied key protections.****
We are extremely encouraged by indications that the Commission recognizes the significant implications of submetering in regulated and subsidized rental buildings, and we would be pleased to work with you to help shape legislation and regulations accordingly****
The letter from Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer was also signed by Congressman Charles B. Rangel, State Senators Bill Perkins and Jose Serrano, Assemblyman Micah Z. Kellner, and New York City Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito and Jessica Lappin.