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A03359 Summary:

BILL NOA03359
 
SAME ASSAME AS S04823
 
SPONSORPaulin
 
COSPNSROtis, Galef, Barron
 
MLTSPNSR
 
Add §53-a, Pub Serv L
 
Prohibits utility companies from harassing, oppressing or abusing any residential customer in connection with the handling of a residential customer complaint, the offering and/or negotiating of a deferred payment agreement, or the collection of an unpaid balance or any other obligation owed by such customer.
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A03359 Actions:

BILL NOA03359
 
01/26/2021referred to corporations, authorities and commissions
02/09/2021reported referred to codes
03/30/2021reported
04/01/2021advanced to third reading cal.216
04/19/2021passed assembly
04/19/2021delivered to senate
04/19/2021REFERRED TO ENERGY AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS
06/10/2021SUBSTITUTED FOR S4823
06/10/20213RD READING CAL.1776
06/10/2021PASSED SENATE
06/10/2021RETURNED TO ASSEMBLY
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A03359 Memo:

NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION
submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
 
BILL NUMBER: A3359
 
SPONSOR: Paulin
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public service law, in relation to prohibiting util- ity companies from harassing, oppressing or abusing any residential customer in connection with the handling of a complaint or unpaid balance   PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: The purpose of this bill is to protect customers' rights when negotiat- ing with a utility company over a complaint or unpaid balance.   SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section one of the bill would amend the public service law by adding a new section 53-a that would prohibit utilities from engaging in abusive and unscrupulous conduct toward a residential customer. A utility corpo- ration or municipality, or energy services companies (ESCO) shall not engage in any conduct that would harass, oppress or abuse a residential customer in connection with handling a complaint, negotiating a deferred payment agreement or the collection of an unpaid balance. Any utility, municipal utility or ESCO in violation of Section 1 shall be subject to fines, penalties and enforcement by the department pursu- ant to sections 24, 25, 25-a and 26 of this chapter. The commission shall promulgate rules and regulations necessary to implement and enforce the provisions of this section. Section two of the bill provides the effective date.   DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ORIGINAL AND AMENDED VERSION (IF APPLICABLE): N/A   JUSTIFICATION: This bill is a protective measure to help clarify utility customers rights under the Home Energy Fair Practices Act (HEFPA), which ensure fair treatment of all residential energy customers and serves to strengthen consumer protections and consumer confidence in the State's competitive energy market. During difficult economic times, customers can easily fall behind in utility payments. However, a utility company's representative should not engage in unfair practices to collect debt or resolve a complaint. Customers should not be subjected to abusive language or deceptive payment practices. Customers have reported unscrupulous practices by utility corporations such as accepting a "payment arrangement," rather than entering into a deferred payment agreement or they have been encouraging customers to make exceptionally large down payments to avoid disconnection of service. Taking inspiration from federal and state law regulating the conduct of consumer debt collectors, this bill will protect customer rights while ensuring utility companies collect custom- er debt and resolve complaints under the high ethical standards.   PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New bill.   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: None to the state.   EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect on the thirtieth day after it shall have become law. Effective immediately, the addition, amendment and/or repeal of any rule or regulation necessary for implementation of this act on its effective date are authorized to be made and completed on or before such effective date.
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A03359 Text:



 
                STATE OF NEW YORK
        ________________________________________________________________________
 
                                          3359
 
                               2021-2022 Regular Sessions
 
                   IN ASSEMBLY
 
                                    January 26, 2021
                                       ___________
 
        Introduced by M. of A. PAULIN -- read once and referred to the Committee
          on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions
 
        AN ACT to amend the public service law, in relation to prohibiting util-
          ity  companies  from  harassing, oppressing or abusing any residential
          customer in connection with the handling  of  a  complaint  or  unpaid
          balance

          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  53-a to read as follows:
     3    §  53-a.  Prohibition  of  utilities  engaging  in detrimental conduct
     4  towards a residential customer. 1.  A  utility  corporation  or  munici-
     5  pality, or energy services companies subject to the department's uniform
     6  business  practices  and  section  three  hundred  forty-nine  and three
     7  hundred forty-nine-d of the general business law, also known  as  ESCOs,
     8  shall  not  engage in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to
     9  harass, oppress, or abuse any residential customer  in  connection  with
    10  the  handling  of  a residential customer complaint, the offering and/or
    11  negotiating of a deferred payment agreement, or  the  collection  of  an
    12  unpaid balance or any other obligation owed by such customer.
    13    2.  All utilities or municipal utilities or ESCOs in violation of this
    14  section shall be subject to fines,  penalties  and  enforcement  by  the
    15  department pursuant to sections twenty-four, twenty-five, twenty-five-a,
    16  and  twenty-six  of  this chapter, and all such other legal or equitable
    17  remedies as may be necessary or convenient for protection  of  consumers
    18  against  the  prohibited  behaviors described in subdivision one of this
    19  section.
    20    3. The commission shall promulgate rules and regulations necessary  to
    21  implement and enforce the provisions of this section.
    22    §  2.  This  act shall take effect on the thirtieth day after it shall
    23  have become a law. Effective immediately, the addition, amendment and/or
    24  repeal of any rule or regulation necessary  for  the  implementation  of
    25  this  act  on its effective date are authorized to be made and completed
    26  on or before such effective date.
 
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                   LBD08935-01-1
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