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High Spiking Prices Are Harming Low Income New York Utility Customers Gerald Norlander Executive Director Public Utility Law Project of New York, Inc.

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Presentation on theme: "High Spiking Prices Are Harming Low Income New York Utility Customers Gerald Norlander Executive Director Public Utility Law Project of New York, Inc."— Presentation transcript:

1 High Spiking Prices Are Harming Low Income New York Utility Customers Gerald Norlander Executive Director Public Utility Law Project of New York, Inc.

2 NY Residential Customers Deeply in Debt to Utilities, Owing $652+M Before the Recent Spikes

3 12% of Customers Were 60+ Days Late in Paying Before Recent Price Spikes

4 590,000 FTNs Per Month And Rising, Before the Recent Spikes

5 21,000 Monthly Residential Customer Shutoffs, Before the Spikes

6 Trends FERC administratively abandoned filed rate and filed contract regulation and allows market-based rates for wholesale producers and traders. Post divestiture, wholesale electric market prices in New York dominated by NYISO spot markets. Spot pricing informs pricing of long term contracts which may be indexed to spot NYISO or spot gas prices Gas fired plants clear NYISO markets in many hours Bidding conventions or purchasing practices of peaker owners may incorporate next day gas spot market prices When short term gas prices spike, NYISO electricity spot prices spike for all

7 Natural Gas Fuels Only 37% of NY Power Generation

8 NYISO Price Peaks Based Upon Gas Power Plant Prices Based Upon Short Term Gas Market Prices

9 NYISO Power Trends: Electricity Prices Follow Natural Gas - Natural Gas Costs and Electricity Prices in New York State: 2000 – 2011

10 Typical Bills and Arrears Rising

11 The Traditional Statutory Framework Reflects New York State Public Policy Favoring Rate Stability NY law adopted a public policy favoring rate stability for utility services essential to households and businesses, e.g.: PSL Art. 4 - requires advance public notice and 11 month hearing process for annual price increase over 2.5% ; Seasonal (summer/winter) residential rate variation is limited to the portion of usage above 250 kwh/month; No mandatory residential TOU rates; FAC was to permit going forward adjustments for incremental cost changes of diverse fuels.

12 Recommendations Low Income Rates. Provide larger bill reductions, expand eligibility to include MA for all utility low income and Lifeline programs, and establish goal to enroll all eligible low-income customers in the correct rate class Universal Service Fund. Collect a universal service charge on all NYISO transactions to equitably fund increased low income assistance Other Funds. Require SBC and RGGI funds collected from low-income customers to be used for their benefit Continuous service. Create performance metrics to reduce terminations for bill collection purposes Reconnections. Require all utilities to implement plan for same day reconnection of shutoff customers who pay or make arrangements to pay by 5 PM Customer assistance in accessing other bill payment aid. Incentivize utilities to help customers obtain SSL 131-s assistance and urge reform of 131-s program restrictions. Default service supply portfolio and fixed rate option. Require a supply portfolio approach for residential and small commercial default service and reduce reliance on spot price purchasing, and a reasonable fixed rate option Long term contracts for electricity and gas. Encourage longer term electric supply contracts not indexed to NYISO or spot gas prices, and encourage longer than one year purchasing ahead for residential gas customers. Incentivize utilities to seek and if necessary litigate for just and reasonable contracts at less than ISO prices. Gas Procurement Practices of Generators. Determine if generator purchasing and ISO bidding practices are in the public interest and take appropriate action if some generators lack credit to buy gas at other than next day spot prices. Market gaming. Examine gas and electric markets for anomalous pricing, withholding, or gaming and take appropriate action at FERC, courts, and exercise public interest jurisdiction over lightly regulated wholesale utilities. Incentivize utilities to seek refunds of overcharges for benefit of default service customers. Constellation Disgorgement Fund for wholesale power advocacy. FERC approved $1 million/yr for 10 years in Oct for consumer advocacy on wholesale issues, but the program is not implemented. Intervenor funding. Support legislative initiatives to create well resourced independent residential utility consumer advocacy.


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