Yonkers Riverview II Tenants Seek Rehearing of PSC Order Continuing Submetering of Electric Heat

On March 22, 2010, the Yonkers Riverview II Tenants Association filed a petition with the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) seeking rehearing of its February 18, 2010 Order on Reconsideration which denied a stay and allowed electric submetering to continue based on promises of the owner to provide thermostats for the electric baseboard heat and energy education, and an expectation that 58% of the tenants would receive HEAP benefits so that half the tenants would not be financially harmed.

The tenants’ Petition for Rehearing urges the PSC to stop submetering because tenants continue to suffer financial harm from electric bills from their landlord that are greater than the amount of rent reductions and utility allowances provided when the owner stopped including electric service in the rent, and because:

Notice was Defective and Denied Due Process of Law to Riverview II Tenants;

The “Financial Harm to Tenants” Test Used by the Commission is Arbitrary;

The Owner Failed to Show that the Proposed Utility Allowances Appropriately Offset the Shift of Responsibility for Electric Charges from the Owner to the Tenants;

Yonkers Housing Authority Utility Allowances Do Not Reflect the Owner’s Actual Cost Reductions, Are Not Calculated to Offset the Actual Cost of Electricity Being Shifted to Tenants, and Are Based on the Low Cost of Power Received from the New York Power Authority;

There is No Evidence that HUD Approved Conversion to Submetering at Riverview II or that HUD Approved the Use of MHACY Utility Allowances at Riverview II;

The Order on Reconsideration Used Past Rather than Forecast Costs for Electricity, Contrary to the Standard Adopted in the September 17 Roosevelt Order, and as a Result Ignores Impending Rate Increases and Understates the Harm to Tenants;

The Forecast Assumption that Tenants will Use 10% Less Energy After Submetering is Not Supported in the Record, and is Inconsistent with the Commission’s Failure to Forecast and Consider the Upward Trend in Electricity Prices;

The Premises are Not Energy Efficient Even After Completion of a NYSERDA Weatherization Project;

It was Error to Allow Submetering to Continue in a Building with Electric Baseboard Heat Lacking Thermostats;

The Owner Has Not Complied with HEFPA;

The Commission Erred by Allowing Submetering to Commence Before the Time of Lease Renewal and Without Informed Consent of Tenants to Modified Leases Containing Commission-Approved Rates, Terms and Conditions of Electric Service;

Deeming of Electricity Charges to be Rent is not Essential to Enforcement of a Valid Agreement of a Tenant to Pay Charges for Electric Service; Permitting Charges for Electric Service to be Deemed “Additional Rent” Permits Subtle Displacement of Low-Income Tenants
Without HEFPA Protection.

The Petition asks the Commission to halt submetering, require refunds, consider the matter again from the start due to the due process denial by appointing an Administrative Law Judge to conduct the proceedings, to develop a complete record and to issue a recommended decision after conclusion of hearings (including a public statement hearing at Riverview II attended by at least one Commissioner), with an opportunity for parties to submit briefs on exceptions.

Background
For more information on the Riverview II case, see

See PULP’s web page on submetering for additional information.

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