NEW YORK, Jan. 30, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With Long Islanders in the grips of dropping winter temperatures, gripes about high utility bills are no doubt rising. Factor in a PSEG-proposed three-year, nearly 12%, $216 million electric rate hike and the only thing that'll likely boil are consumers' tempers – and with good reason, according to an AARP survey.
A whopping 74% of Long Island's 50+ voters say they are already concerned about their ability to pay utility bills (46% extremely/very worried), and 83% say the cost of heating their homes caused financial strain last winter, the AARP survey finds (pg. 20).
"This move is a bad one for consumers and it'll take a harsh toll on the 50+," warned Will Stoner, Associate State Director for AARP on Long Island. "We're calling for close scrutiny of this rate hike proposal and for a stronger consumer voice to be included through the creation of an independent utility consumer advocate office."
New York State residents pay some of the highest electric rates in the nation, behind only Alaska, Connecticut and Hawaii.
"Too often in rate hike proposals, the golden rule applies: those that have the gold make the rules, and consumers get left out," added Stoner. "Utility companies can pay for experts and attorneys to make their case – and they use ratepayers' money to do so. But consumers have little wherewithal to mitigate the impact of the hikes, and that causes the brunt of any hikes to hit everyday consumers - who can least bear it. This has got to change."
AARP is urging New York to become the 41st state to establish an independent utility consumer advocate office with the power to challenge unfair rate hikes in court. The 40 other states with utility consumer advocate offices save their residents billions of dollars a year.
Legislation to establish an independent utility consumer advocate has passed the New York Assembly two years in a row with bipartisan support. However, the New York State Senate has failed to act on the bill.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services. A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world's largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity of AARP that is working to win back opportunity for struggling Americans 50+ by being a force for change on the most serious issues they face today: housing, hunger, income and isolation. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.
SOURCE AARP New York State