This legislation would allow groups of individuals or not-for-profit organizations that represent residential or small business customers to apply for reimbursement for costs (such as advocate fees, expert witness fees, and other reasonable costs) in proceedings of the Public Service Commission (PSC).
Presently it is difficult for even the most engaged customer to participate in PSC proceedings due to time and location of the hearings. The proceedings occur mid-morning on weekdays when most customers and small business owners are at work, making it hard for desired participants to intervene in the proceedings.
For low-income customers who wish to intervene in proceedings, it can be a significant burden to take time off work to attend the hearings, or to contract and retain an advocate or expert witness. This legislation allows individuals and small business customers the opportunity to apply for an award of compensation if they seek active party status and demonstrate that participation would result in significant financial hardship.
As the State begins to implement the historic Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, the PSC will be at the center as they regulate electricity, natural gas and steam. Ensuring that all communities can weigh in as we transition to a future with cleaner energy is a critical component of a just transition. This legislation provides that assurance through the establishment of intervenor reimbursements.
This legislation amends the Public Service law by adding a new section 24-c, the utility intervenor reimbursement. This bill also amends the state finance law by adding a new section 97-ssss which establishes the utility intervener account.