AARP and Utility Project Reply Comments in PSC Proceeding to Repurpose $925 Million/year Surcharges Urge More Attention to Affordability

AARP New York and the Utility Project filed reply comments recently in the New York PSC “Clean Energy Fund” proceeding.  The comments continue to express concern raised in our initial comments over reallocation of surcharge revenues, ordered to be collected by the PSC, which now generate $925 million/year beyond the cost of electric service of the utilities.  These funds currently are used to fund certain energy efficiency and renewables programs.  Currently the funds are collected from customers by the utilities and given to NYSERDA, which then spends the money under PSC direction. AARP and the Utility Project urge that the use of the funds be broadened to support more robust assistance to customers who face some of the nation’s highest electric rates, high levels of debt to the utilities for past-due bills, added 18%/year late payment charges, large numbers of shutoff notices, and approximately 250,000 shutoffs a year for bill collection purposes.  The comments urge the PSC to address affordability of service as it develops its as yet undefined REV initiatives which may be funded through the repurposed surcharges or utility rates. See AARP AND UTILITY PROJECT URGE NY PSC TO INCLUDE IMPROVED RATES AND UTILITY ASSISTANCE FOR ELECTRICITY CUSTOMERS WHEN IT REPURPOSES $925 MILLION/YEAR ELECTRIC BILL SURCHARGE REVENUES, December 8, 2014. In a notable comment, resonating with consumer concerns about the costs of the PSC’s decarbonization agenda, Paul Francis submitted comments for the Guarini Center of New York University Law School urging a principled method of achieving carbon reduction at least cost.  His analysis shows that expenditures for energy efficiency measures that reduce usage are far less expensive than current renewable technologies, that utility scale renewables are less expensive than distributed resources such as solar rooftops.  Mr. Francis urged caution in committing large resources to less effective measures, and recommended more research and development to achieve better results with new renewable energy technology.

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