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A00873 Summary:

COSPNSRRosenthal L, Thiele, Simon, Colton, Englebright, Otis, Solages, Lupardo
MLTSPNSRGlick, Gottfried, Hevesi
Add §24-c, Pub Serv L; add §97-uuuu, St Fin L
Relates to utility intervenor reimbursement.
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A00873 Actions:

01/06/2021referred to energy
05/20/2021amend and recommit to energy
05/20/2021print number 873a
01/05/2022referred to energy
05/11/2022reported referred to codes
05/23/2022reported referred to ways and means
05/25/2022reported referred to rules
05/31/2022rules report cal.437
05/31/2022substituted by s3034a
 05/04/20211ST REPORT CAL.906
 05/05/20212ND REPORT CAL.
 05/25/2021PASSED SENATE
 05/25/2021referred to energy
 01/05/2022died in assembly
 01/05/2022returned to senate
 04/26/20221ST REPORT CAL.858
 04/27/20222ND REPORT CAL.
 05/10/2022PASSED SENATE
 05/10/2022referred to energy
 05/31/2022substituted for a873a
 05/31/2022ordered to third reading rules cal.437
 06/03/2022passed assembly
 06/03/2022returned to senate
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A00873 Memo:

submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public service law, in relation to utility interve- nor reimbursement; and to amend the state finance law, in relation to establishing the utility intervenor account   SUMMARY AND DESCRIPTION OF PROVISIONS: This bill would permit groups of individuals or not-for-profit organiza- tions that represent residential or small business customers to apply for reimbursement of its costs for reasonable advocate's fees, reason- able expert witness fees, and other reasonable costs in a proceeding before the Public Service Commission (PSC). The Department of Public Service would be authorized to determine appropriate application proce- dures. This legislation would also provide for compensation to be awarded in advance if the participant makes a showing of significant financial hardship. The bill provides definitions for "compensation," "participant," "other reasonable costs," "party," "proceeding," "significant financial hard- ship," "small business," and "substantial contribution." The bill establishes application requirements including a statement of planned participation, description of anticipated, advocate's fees, expert fees and other costs; and any other material required by the Department. If participation would impose significant financial hardship on the appli- cant, evidence of such hardship must also be submitted. Within thirty days-after the application has been filed, the Department would determine if the participant may make a substantial contribution to its final decision. If the participant included evidence of substan- tial financial hardship, the Department would determine whether such showing was made and the amount of compensation to be paid by the public utility or utilities prior to the end of the proceeding. The Department would also be authorized to recover any advance payments made if the participant discontinues its participation without the Department's consent. Criteria would be established by which compensation is calcu- lated and would require any unused compensation to be returned to the public utility or utilities. The bill directs the Department to require participants seeking payment to maintain an itemized record of all expenses inclined during the proceeding. The Department is authorized to require participants to join their claims if they have substantially similar interests. A public utility or utilities subject to the proceeding must remit any compensation within thirty days of the proceeding. The Department would then remit such compensation to the participant. The Department is authorized to deny any compensation to any participant who attempts to delay or obstruct a proceeding.   JUSTIFICATION: The intent of this legislation is to recognize and remedy the fact that individual action by residential consumers and small businesses for the purposes of participating in utility matters and communicating their views is rendered impracticable by reason of the disproportionate expense of taking such action. PSC proceedings sometimes minimize public participation. It can be difficult for New Yorkers to follow relevant proceedings. The Commis- sion's usual meeting time is 10:30 a.m., a time when the average citizen or small business owner is not likely to participate. In many instances, the only people who can attend on a regular basis are most likely those whose job depends on it, such as representatives of the utilities and other special interests. The legislation recognizes that citizen participation should be encouraged when government regulators set policy. Individuals who seek to participate in Public Service Commission (PSC) utility proceedings are referred to as intervenors. Increased public participation through the through the intervenor proc- ess, if sought and not fought, will spur a more open and accountable government regulatory process that may yield creative socially responsi- ble solutions to difficult issues. This legislation will provide a mech- anism to allow residential and small business utility customers to access financial resources to become active participants in PSC proceedings. This includes the ability to receive compensation of advo- cate fees; expert witness fees, and other reasonable costs associated with their participation.   LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2019-2020: A.145 - Referred to Energy 2017-2018: A.17 - Referred to Energy 2015-2016: A.860A - Referred to Energy 2013-2014: A.1247 - Referred to Energy 2011-2012: A.27A - Reported referred to Ways and Means 2010: A.8722D - Amended and recommitted to Ways and Means 2009: A.8722 - Referred to Energy   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None to the State. Intervenor fees would be provided by utilities.   EFFECTIVE DATE: Thirty days after it shall become law.
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A00873 Text:

                STATE OF NEW YORK
                               2021-2022 Regular Sessions
                   IN ASSEMBLY
                                     January 6, 2021
        Introduced  by  M. of A. CAHILL, L. ROSENTHAL, THIELE -- Multi-Sponsored
          by -- M. of A.  GLICK, GOTTFRIED, HEVESI -- read once and referred  to
          the Committee on Energy -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered
          reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee

        AN  ACT to amend the public service law, in relation to utility interve-
          nor reimbursement; and to amend the state finance law, in relation  to
          establishing the utility intervenor account
          The  People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
     1    Section 1.  The public service law is amended by adding a new  section
     2  24-c to read as follows:
     3    §  24-c.    Utility  intervenor  reimbursement.  1.    As used in this
     4  section, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
     5    (a) "Compensation" means payment from the utility  intervenor  account
     6  fund  established by section ninety-seven-uuuu of the state finance law,
     7  for all or part, as determined by the department,  of  reasonable  advo-
     8  cate's  fees, reasonable expert witness fees, and other reasonable costs
     9  for preparation and participation in a proceeding.
    10    (b) "Participant" means a group of persons that apply jointly  for  an
    11  award of compensation under this section and who represent the interests
    12  of a significant number of residential or small business customers, or a
    13  not-for-profit  organization  in  this  state authorized pursuant to its
    14  articles of incorporation or bylaws to represent the interests of  resi-
    15  dential  or  small  business  utility  customers.  For  purposes of this
    16  section, a participant does not include  a  non-profit  organization  or
    17  other organization whose principal interests are the welfare of a public
    18  utility  or  its  investors  or employees, or the welfare of one or more
    19  businesses or industries which receive utility  service  ordinarily  and
    20  primarily  for  use  in  connection with the profit-seeking manufacture,
    21  sale, or distribution of goods or services.
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.

        A. 873--A                           2
     1    (c) "Other reasonable costs" means reasonable  out-of-pocket  expenses
     2  directly  incurred  by  a  participant  that are directly related to the
     3  contentions or recommendations made by the participant that resulted  in
     4  a substantial contribution.
     5    (d)  "Party" means any interested party, respondent public utility, or
     6  commission staff in a hearing or proceeding.
     7    (e) "Proceeding" means a complaint, or investigation,  rulemaking,  or
     8  other  formal  proceeding  before the commission, or alternative dispute
     9  resolution procedures in lieu of formal proceedings as may be  sponsored
    10  or  endorsed  by the commission, provided however such proceedings shall
    11  be limited to those arising under and proceeding pursuant to the follow-
    12  ing articles of this chapter: (1) the regulation of the price of gas and
    13  electricity, pursuant to article  four  of  this  chapter  except  those
    14  described in subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (c) of subdivision twelve of
    15  section  sixty-six  of  this chapter; (2) the regulation of the price of
    16  steam, pursuant to article four-A of this chapter; (3) the  submetering,
    17  remetering or resale of electricity to residential premises, pursuant to
    18  sections sixty-five and sixty-six of this chapter, and pursuant to regu-
    19  lations  regarding the submetering, remetering, or resale of electricity
    20  adopted by the commission; and (4) such sections of this chapter as  are
    21  applicable  to  a  proceeding in which the commission makes a finding on
    22  the record that the public interest requires the reimbursement of utili-
    23  ty intervenor fees pursuant to this section.
    24    (f) "Significant financial hardship" means that the  participant  will
    25  be  unable to afford, without undue hardship, to pay the costs of effec-
    26  tive participation, including advocate's fees, expert witness fees,  and
    27  other reasonable costs of participation.
    28    (g)  "Small  business" means a business with a gross annual revenue of
    29  two hundred fifty thousand dollars or less.
    30    (h) "Substantial contribution" means that,  in  the  judgment  of  the
    31  department,  the  participant's application may substantially assist the
    32  commission in making its decision because  the  decision  may  adopt  in
    33  whole  or in part one or more factual contentions, legal contentions, or
    34  specific policy or procedural recommendations that will be presented  by
    35  the participant.
    36    2.  A  participant  may  apply for an award of compensation under this
    37  section in a proceeding in which  such  participant  has  sought  active
    38  party  status  as defined by the department. The department shall deter-
    39  mine appropriate procedures for accepting and responding to such  appli-
    40  cations.    At  the time of application, such participant shall serve on
    41  every party to the proceeding notice of intent to apply for an award  of
    42  compensation.
    43    An application shall include:
    44    (a)  A  statement  of  the nature and extent and the factual and legal
    45  basis of the participant's planned participation in  the  proceeding  as
    46  far  as  it  is  possible to describe such participation with reasonable
    47  specificity at the time the application is filed.
    48    (b) At minimum, a reasonably detailed description of anticipated advo-
    49  cates and expert witness fees and other costs of preparation and partic-
    50  ipation that the participant expects to request as compensation.
    51    (c) If participation or intervention will impose a significant  finan-
    52  cial  hardship  and the participant seeks payment in advance to an award
    53  of compensation in order to initiate, continue or complete participation
    54  in the hearing or proceeding, such participant must include evidence  of
    55  such significant financial hardship in its application.
    56    (d) Any other requirements as required by the department.

        A. 873--A                           3

     1    3.  (a)  Within  thirty  days  after  the filing of an application the
     2  department shall issue a decision that determines  whether  or  not  the
     3  participant may make a substantial contribution to the final decision in
     4  the  hearing or proceeding. If the department finds that the participant
     5  requesting compensation may make a substantial contribution, the depart-
     6  ment  shall  describe  this  substantial  contribution and determine the
     7  amount of compensation to be paid pursuant to subdivision four  of  this
     8  section.
     9    (b)  Notwithstanding  subdivision four of this section, if the depart-
    10  ment finds that the participant has a  significant  financial  hardship,
    11  the department may direct the public utility or utilities subject to the
    12  proceeding  to  pay all or part of the compensation to the department to
    13  be provided to the participant prior to the end of  the  proceeding.  In
    14  the  event  that  the  participant discontinues its participation in the
    15  proceeding without the consent of the department, the  department  shall
    16  be  entitled  to, in whole or in part, recover any payments made to such
    17  participant to be refunded to  the  public  utility  or  utilities  that
    18  provided such payment.
    19    (c)  The computation of compensation pursuant to paragraph (a) of this
    20  subdivision shall take into  consideration  the  market  rates  paid  to
    21  persons   of  comparable  training  and  experience  who  offer  similar
    22  services. The compensation awarded may not,  in  any  case,  exceed  the
    23  comparable market rate for services paid by the department or the public
    24  utility,  whichever  is  greater,  to persons of comparable training and
    25  experience who are offering similar services.
    26    (d) Any compensation awarded to a participant and  not  used  by  such
    27  participant shall be returned to the department for refund to the public
    28  utility or utilities that provided such payment.
    29    (e)  The  department  shall  require that participants seeking payment
    30  maintain an itemized record of all expenditures incurred as a result  of
    31  such proceeding.
    32    (i)  The  department may use the itemized record of expenses to verify
    33  the claim of financial hardship by a participant seeking payment  pursu-
    34  ant to paragraph (c) of subdivision two of this section.
    35    (ii) The department may use the record of expenditures in determining,
    36  after the completion of a proceeding, if any unused funds remain.
    37    (iii) The department shall preserve the confidentiality of the partic-
    38  ipant's  records  in making any audit or determining the availability of
    39  funds after the completion of a proceeding.
    40    (f) In the event that the department finds that two  or  more  partic-
    41  ipants'  applications  have substantially similar interests, the depart-
    42  ment may require such participants to apply jointly in order to  receive
    43  compensation.
    44    4.  Any  compensation  pursuant  to  this section shall be paid at the
    45  conclusion of the proceeding by the public utility or utilities  subject
    46  to  the proceeding within thirty days. Such compensation shall be remit-
    47  ted to the department which shall then remit such  compensation  to  the
    48  participant.
    49    5. The department shall deny any award to any participant who attempts
    50  to  delay  or obstruct the orderly and timely fulfillment of the depart-
    51  ment's responsibilities.
    52    § 2. The state finance law is amended by adding a new section  97-uuuu
    53  to read as follows:
    54    §  97-uuuu. Utility intervenor account. 1. There is hereby established
    55  in the joint custody of the state comptroller and  the  commissioner  of

        A. 873--A                           4

     1  taxation  and  finance  a  fund  to  be  known as the utility intervenor
     2  account.
     3    2.  Such account shall consist of all utility intervenor reimbursement
     4  monies received from utilities pursuant to section twenty-four-c of  the
     5  public service law.
     6    §  3.  This  act shall take effect on the thirtieth day after it shall
     7  have become a law.
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