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A04876 Summary:

COSPNSRSimon, Pheffer Amato, Thiele, Hevesi, Darling, Stern, Anderson, Shimsky, Mamdani, Reyes, Stirpe, Kelles, Lunsford, Wallace, Shrestha, Bores, Raga, De Los Santos, Meeks, Sillitti, Colton, Lupardo
Add 131-ss, Soc Serv L
Provides for the automated identification of affordability program participants to enable such participants to be automatically entered into utility corporation energy affordability programs.
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A04876 Memo:

submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
SPONSOR: Solages
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the social services law, in relation to providing for the automated identification of affordability program participants   PURPOSE: For the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) to coordi- nate with utility companies on automated file matching to identify eligible affordability program participants.   SUMMARY: Section 1. Amends the social services law by adding a new section 131-ss. Section 2. Sets the effective date.   JUSTIFICATION: New York's utilities offer Energy Affordability Programs (EAPs) that follow guidance from the New York Public Service Commission which requires utilities to set low-income program discount levels that keep customer energy burden at or below a target goal of 6% of household income. EAPs offer customers a monthly bill credit using a tiered discount structure that considers whether the customer is a heating or a non-heating customer. Utility customers who receive Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) grants paid to the utility on the customer's behalf are automatically enrolled in the utility corporation's Energy Affordability Programs (EAP). However, not all low-income customers receive HEAP even if they qualify to receive it. The New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) conducts a file matching process to capture customers who partic- ipate in other qualifying programs, including: *Public Assistance *Supplemental Security Income *Medicaid *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 the 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 benefit. An automated process is also more efficient and less costly to administer than identifying customers on a case-by-case manner. Making file matching a statewide practice is a more efficient utilization of state and utility resources. 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  1. It is essen- tial that utility customers throughout the state are connected to any and all assistance programs for which they are eligible. This legis- lation 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.   RACIAL JUSTICE IMPACT: People of color and low-income New Yorkers are disproportionately impacted by rising utility costs. Specifically, redlining and housing discrimination has resulted in Black and Latino households paying more in utilities than their White counterparts. Several studies have shown that low-quality housing stock due to racial segregation is a major driving factor of this disparity  2. This bill will create a program to automatically match New Yorkers who receive certain public benefits with Energy Affordability Programs.   GENDER JUSTICE IMPACT: TBD.   LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2022: A9099; passed in the Assembly.   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: TBD.   EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.   1 AARP. "AARP and PULP: Governor Hochul Must Address Utility Arrears Crisis in Budget Amendment."   HTTPS://STATES.AARP.ORG/NEW-VORK/ AARO-PULB-HOCHUL-MUST-ADDRESS-UTILITY-ARREARS-CRISIS.   2 Constantine Kontokosta, Vincent Reina, Bartozs Bonczak, "Energy Cost Burdens for Low-Income and Minority Households: Evidence From Energy Benchmarking and Audit Data in Five U.S. Cities," Journal of the Ameri- can Planning Association 86 no. 1, (Sept. 2019): 89-105,   HTTPS://DOI.ORG/10.1080/01944363.2019.1647446; Brentin Mock, "Neigh- borhoods With More People of Color Pay Higher Energy Bills," Bloomberg, November 25, 2019,   HTTPS ://WWW,BLOOMBERG.COM/NEWS/ARTICLES/2019-11-25/ WHY-WHITE-HOUSEHOLDS-PAY- LESS-FOR-UTI1ITIES.ct.
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A04876 Text:

                STATE OF NEW YORK
                               2023-2024 Regular Sessions
                   IN ASSEMBLY
                                    February 24, 2023
        Introduced  by  M.  of A. SOLAGES, SIMON, PHEFFER AMATO -- read once and
          referred to the Committee on Social Services
        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

         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.

        A. 4876                             2
     1  which are intended to assist  customers  with  energy  affordability  by
     2  reducing customers' energy burden.
     3    2.  Within  one  hundred  eighty  days  of  the effective date of this
     4  section, the commissioner shall establish a statewide program to provide
     5  for automated identification of eligible affordability  program  partic-
     6  ipants  for  participation  in  utility corporation energy affordability
     7  programs.
     8    3. The office shall engage  with  utility  corporations  to  establish
     9  automated  file  matching  mechanisms  that will provide, via electronic
    10  means, to utility corporations a list of eligible affordability  program
    11  participants within the utility corporation's service territory.
    12    4. The office shall conduct automated file matching to identify utili-
    13  ty  corporation  customer  accounts  that are also affordability program
    14  participants and such information shall be provided  to  utility  corpo-
    15  rations  no  less  than  semi-annually.    Utility  corporation customer
    16  accounts identified by the  office  as  eligible  for  participation  in
    17  available  utility corporation energy affordability programs as a result
    18  of such file matching shall be enrolled in such  programs  within  sixty
    19  days of receipt of the office communicating the results of the automated
    20  file  matching  to the utility corporation.  Any information provided to
    21  the utility corporations related to affordability  program  participants
    22  pursuant  to  this section shall be redacted as necessary to protect any
    23  information that is protected under any state or federal  privacy  laws,
    24  kept  confidential,  and  shall  only  be  utilized  for  the purpose of
    25  confirming eligibility in the utility corporation  energy  affordability
    26  program.
    27    5. The commissioner may adopt, on an emergency basis pursuant to arti-
    28  cle  two  of the state administrative procedure act, any rules necessary
    29  to carry out the provisions of this article.
    30    6. The commissioner may delegate the administration of any portion  of
    31  this  program  to  any  state  agency, city, county, town, contractor or
    32  non-profit organization in accordance with the provisions of this  arti-
    33  cle and applicable federal requirements.  Provided however, such privacy
    34  and  confidentiality  limitations prescribed in subdivision four of this
    35  section shall apply to any entity that the  commissioner  delegates  the
    36  administration of the program to.
    37    § 2.  This act shall take effect immediately.
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