NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A9099A
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the social services law, in relation to providing for
the automated identification of affordability program participants
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
OTDA will coordinate with utility companies on automated file matching
to identify eligible Affordability Program Participants.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section one defines terms; provides that the Commissioner shall estab-
lish a statewide program to provide for automated identification of
eligible Affordability Program Participants for participation in Utility
Corporation Energy Affordability Programs within 180 days; outlines
cooperation between OTDA and utility companies; establishes file match-
ing frequency and timeframe for enrolling eligible customers; ensures
that information given to the utility corporations is only utilized for
the purpose of confirming eligibility and that any personal information
is redacted as necessary; gives the Commissioner the authority to adopt
rules on an emergency basis; and allows the Commissioner to delegate the
administration of the program.
Section two establishes the effective date.
New York's utilities offer Energy Affordability Programs that follow
guidance from the New York Public Service Commission which required
utilities to set low-income program discount levels that keep customer
energy burden at or below a target goal of 6% of household income. The
EAPs offer customers a monthly bill credit using a tiered discount
structure that considers whether the customer is a heating or non-heat-
Utility customers who receive Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)
grants paid to the utility on the customer's behalf are automatically
enrolled in utility corporation's Energy Affordability Programs (EAP).
However, not all low-income customers receive HEAP. In Downstate New
York, the New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) conducts a
file matching process to also capture customers who participate in other
qualifying programs, including:
*Supplemental Security Income
*Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
*Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program *Veterans' Disability Program
*Veterans' Surviving Spouse Pension
*Child Health Plus
The inclusion of these programs and corresponding file-matching process
dramatically increases participation in EAP programs. Outside of New
York City, customers are largely responsible for self-identifying for
being eligible for the program - limiting the number of those who bene-
fit. An automated process is also more efficient and less costly to
administer than identifying customers on a case-by-case manner. Making
filing matching a statewide practice is an efficient utilization of
state and utility resources in a streamlined manner.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating financial impact on New
Yorkers, especially those who were already struggling to make ends meet.
AARP recently estimated that 1.2 million New York households are in
energy utility arrears, totaling more than $1.7 billion. It is essential
that utility customers throughout the state are connected to any and all
assistance programs for which they are eligible. This legislation would
require OTDA to coordinate with utilities to automate that process in a
manner similar to the HRA process in New York City. This will help
ensure that more low-income New Yorkers are receiving the assistance to
which they are entitled.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
A.9099 (Cusick) - referred to social services.
To be determined.
This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK
January 31, 2022
Introduced by M. of A. CUSICK, SIMON -- read once and referred to the
Committee on Social Services -- committee discharged, bill amended,
ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee
AN ACT to amend the social services law, in relation to providing for
the automated identification of affordability program participants
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. The social services law is amended by adding a new section
2 131-ss to read as follows:
3 § 131-ss. Automated identification of affordability program partic-
4 ipants. 1. Definitions. For the purposes of this section, the following
5 terms shall have the following meanings:
6 (a) "Commissioner" shall mean the commissioner of the office of tempo-
7 rary and disability assistance.
8 (b) "Affordability program participant" shall mean a household that is
9 determined to be eligible by the appropriate agency for any of the
10 following programs:
11 (i) Public assistance;
12 (ii) Supplemental security income;
13 (iii) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
14 (iv) Low income home energy assistance program;
15 (v) Veteran's disability pension;
16 (vi) Veteran's surviving spouse pension;
17 (vii) Child health plus;
18 (viii) Lifeline; and
19 (ix) Any other income-based assistance program identified by the
20 public service commission in consultation with the office.
21 (c) "Office" shall mean the office of temporary disability assistance.
22 (d) "Utility corporation" shall mean a corporation regulated pursuant
23 to article two of the public service law.
24 (e) "Utility corporation energy affordability programs" shall be
25 defined by the public service commission and shall include programs
26 which are intended to assist customers with energy affordability by
27 reducing customers' energy burden.
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.
A. 9099--A 2
1 2. Within one hundred eighty days of the effective date of this
2 section, the commissioner shall establish a statewide program to provide
3 for automated identification of eligible affordability program partic-
4 ipants for participation in utility corporation energy affordability
6 3. The office shall engage with utility corporations to establish
7 automated file matching mechanisms that will provide, via electronic
8 means, to utility corporations a list of eligible affordability program
9 participants within the utility corporation's service territory.
10 4. The office shall conduct automated file matching to identify utili-
11 ty corporation customer accounts that are also affordability program
12 participants and such information shall be provided to utility corpo-
13 rations no less than semi-annually. Utility corporation customer
14 accounts identified by the office as eligible for participation in
15 available utility corporation energy affordability programs as a result
16 of such file matching shall be enrolled in such programs within sixty
17 days of receipt of the office communicating the results of the automated
18 file matching to the utility corporation. Any information provided to
19 the utility corporations related to affordability program participants
20 pursuant to this section shall be redacted as necessary to protect any
21 information that is protected under any state or federal privacy laws,
22 kept confidential, and shall only be utilized for the purpose of
23 confirming eligibility in the utility corporation energy affordability
25 5. The commissioner may adopt, on an emergency basis pursuant to arti-
26 cle two of the state administrative procedure act, any rules necessary
27 to carry out the provisions of this article.
28 6. The commissioner may delegate the administration of any portion of
29 this program to any state agency, city, county, town, contractor or
30 non-profit organization in accordance with the provisions of this arti-
31 cle and applicable federal requirements. Provided however, such privacy
32 and confidentiality limitations prescribed in subdivision four of this
33 section shall apply to any entity that the commissioner delegates the
34 administration of the program to.
35 § 2. This act shall take effect immediately.