Slater Introduces Legislation to Require Utility Rate Transparency
BREWSTER, NY - Assemblyman Matt Slater (R,C-Yorktown) held a press conference yesterday to announce the introduction of legislation that would make utility companies more transparent regarding supply costs that are being passed on to consumers. Citing rising electricity costs throughout the region, the Hudson Valley lawmaker’s bill will require utility companies to share supply rate increases on their website.
“Representatives from every level of government are hearing from our constituents about another round of back-breaking utility bills that just keep going up,” Slater said. “With the cost of living in the Hudson Valley among the highest in the country, these unpredictable bills are making our families, businesses and especially seniors on a fixed income financially vulnerable during a time when inflation is still sky-high and New York’s affordability crisis persists.”
A major reason for increases in utility rates is the volatility of the supply market. These costs are passed on to ratepayers by utility companies, some of which predicted supply costs to escalate above 45% this winter. To combat this, Slater and Putnam County officials believe companies should be more transparent with this information, including posting the energy supply costs on their website to better inform consumers.
Putnam County Executive Kevin Byrne applauded the legislation, saying, “From a fundamental consumer-protection standpoint, what we’re asking for is basic transparency from the utility company. Ratepayers deserve to be able to understand what they are paying for; is this the utility or the supply-side increase? Individuals and families on fixed incomes need that heads up, they need to be able to plan for utility bill increases they may not have budgeted for.”
Putnam County Clerk Michael Bartolotti said, “When utility companies are changing their rates, we need to be prepared. It is unfair to subject families to increased, unexpected rates.”
Paul Jonke, Chairman of the Putnam County Legislature, added, “We have brought in representatives from NYSEG to assist the committee and the county. We have never received any clear answers. For transparency and the protection of our residents, I am thankful for the work Assemblyman Slater is doing.”
Putnam County Legislator Joe Castellano said, “I have heard from many residents in my district who don’t understand why their utility bills continue to rise. Providing readily-available information will help them understand why the costs continue to rise.”
Paula Hernandez, Executive Director of the Brewster Chamber of Commerce, explained that utility costs have been a topic of discussion for their members. “This is an important initiative that our members do appreciate. Businesses need the ability to financially plan and that is hard to do when they are unaware of rising costs.”
Slater also sent a letter to the Chairman of the New York State Public Service Commission, the state entity that regulates utility companies across New York, demanding greater transparency of supply costs by the PSC and NYSEG. Slater reminded the chairman the supply cost increases will be in addition to the proposed 31% rate hike that NYSEG has requested from New York state. Slater renewed his opposition to this rate hike, which according to AARP, would be the largest rate hike approved in state history. The letter to the Public Service Commission can be viewed here.