Catching Up Is Hard To Do – New York’s Utility Customers and the Great Recession

Utility collection activity reports show that many New York consumers have fallen behind in making payments for essential utility electric and gas services.  As a consequence, they face added late charges, threats of service termination for bill collection purposes, and nearly three hundred thousand face actual service termination each year.

As shown in the following PowerPoint which draws upon statewide data through 2012 (excluding LIPA) – the situation has eased since the depths of the Great Recession in 2008, but it is worse than it was in 2005.

 

Conclusion:

The data indicates there are serious affordability problems for electric and gas consumers in New York State.  While the problems are complex, a starting point for solutions should be improvement of New York’s low income rates.  The Utility Project  recommends that the PSC address this in its pending review of the Con Edison and National Fuel Gas Distribution company cases, where the Utility Project opposes proposed settlements that do not sufficiently address the affordability issue.  The Utility Project also argues it is possible for the PSC to accomplish a general lowering of rates in both cases and to adopt other reforms.

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