As reported in today’s New York Times, New York lacks a strong independent state utility consumer advocate office. See Utility Critics Seek Advocate for Customers in New York. In addition, the work of PULP, a small independent nonprofit advocate for utility consumers, is about to end, again.
Since the time of Gov. Mario Cuomo, the Public Utility Law Project has depended upon legislative additions to Governors’ proposed budgets for its survival. After 30 years of advocacy on behalf of low and fixed income energy and utility customers, PULP abruptly closed in 2010 when then Governor Paterson gained passage of his proposed budget without any legislative amendments including funding for PULP.
In the enacted 2012 New York State Budget, the legislature added $505,000 to revive PULP for the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2012. Slow processing of the contract to implement the appropriation meant that no funds were actually received by PULP until December 28, 2012. See DiNapoli: State Agencies’ Late Approvals of Contracts with Not-For-Profits Rose to 80 Percent Last Year.
PULP nonetheless began operating again in 2012 with a small bank loan, and the appropriateed state funding is now available under the contract for its operations, but only until March 31, 2013.
Without a reappropriation of some of the 2012 funds to extend the period in which they can be spent, and a new appropriation for 2013-14, PULP will again cease operations.
The Governor’s proposed budget for 2013 – 14 includes no funding for PULP. Thus, the future of PULP is again dependent upon a legislative amendment to the budget.