New York State Citizens Utility Board Now sign now

Do you agree with Assemblyman Kevin Cahill that it's time for New York to once again have a Citizens Utility Board like those already in Illinois and Wisconsin that have proven to be effective nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations representing the interests of residential-utility customers? See CitizensUtilityBoard.org and WisCub.org for information on the great work those two organizations have been doing in those states on behalf of consumers-- we need such an organization here in this state again.

See more just below about Cahill's legislation to do just this-- A.11157; New York had a Citizens Utility Board in the early 90's-- before Pataki and Miller came into office and dismantled it.

Fact: Local Republican state legislators like Miller were quiet as mice for an entire year letting our state's Public Service Commission allow Central Hudson's plan to hike electric rates 28\% over next three years fall into place-- after no less than $86 million in profits for the utility over the last two years alone.

Kudos to the Town of Poughkeepsie and Wappinger Town Boards for passing strong resolutions against Central Hudson's rate hike; Assemblyman Cahill long opposed the rate hike; even a number of Republicans in the Ulster County Legislature.

Shame on Miller and other local Republican state legislators for being so quiet on this for so long; to make matters worse, Miller actually accepted $400 in campaign donations from Central Hudson over last two years-- then, incredibly denying this to the Daily Freeman.

Go to PetitionOnline.com/FairRate and click on "View Signatures" to see comments from well over fifty local residents against Central Hudson's rate hike.

Finally, scroll down a bit to see the outrageous salaries of the folks on the board of our state's Independent System Operator, as reported by the Poughkeepsie Journal September 21st; a revitalized Citizens Utility Board would not allow this to happen here in NY. See more on much of this at the Public Utility Law Project's great site PULP.tc.

Joel Tyner
County Legislator
Clinton/Rhinebeck
324 Browns Pond Road
Staatsburg, NY 12580
[email protected]
JoelTyner.org
(845) 876-2488

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From the memo for Cahill's legislation (A.11157)...

[see http://www.assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A11157 ]

"An act to amend the public service law, in relation to establishing the
Citizens' Utility Advocacy Board, Inc.

A recent rash of requests for gas and electric utility rate increases
coupled with the Public Service Commission's (PSC) efforts to gut reliability standards for telephone service highlights the need to bring
back CUB, an independent consumer voice on utility issues, to make sure the public has a seat at the table when issues like energy policy and utility services are to be discussed.

The intent of this legislation is to recognize and remedy the fact that
individual action by residential consumers for the purposes of participating in utility matters and communicating their views is rendered impracticable by reason of the disproportionate expense of taking such action. Such participation and representation can be best secured by the creation of a permanent, not-for-profit, statewide organization which is under the democratic control of its membership, solely responsive to that membership's goals, and which is funded by voluntary contributions. The formation of such an entity by consumers acting voluntarily is impeded because consumers have neither the resources nor an efficient mechanism to contact all residential utility customers, raise initial funds and join such an entity. In addition, in order to create such an entity, it is necessary to establish a democratically structured organization and to provide for the dissemination to all customers of information as to the formation and purposes of such organization and to provide an efficient means for joining and contributing to such organization. For these reasons, this legislation seeks to once again establish a not-for-profit corporation known as the Citizens' Utility Advocacy Board, Inc. (CUB) with the responsibility to promote adequate representation of residential utility consumers; to collect operating funds; to assist in the redress of residential utility consumer complaints; and to provide for residential utility consumer membership in such corporation and residential utility consumer direction of the actions of such corporation.

A recent rash of requests for gas and electric utility rate increases
coupled with the Public Service Commission's (PSC) efforts to gut reliability standards for telephone service highlights the need to bring
back CUB, an independent consumer voice on utility issues, to make sure the public has a seat at the table when issues like energy policy and utility services are to be discussed.

CUB is a not-for-profit organization whose mission it is to represent
the interests of residential utility customers by intervening in
proceedings with the PSC, in the courts and before other regulatory
bodies and by providing consumers with information and assistance
regarding utility companies. When a utility seeks a rate increase or a
change in service, it must win approval from the PSC. The utility usually presents the commission with detailed testimony from numerous experts to back up its request. CUB's job would be to present the same kind of evidence and make persuasive legal arguments -- but from the consumers' point of view. CUB would challenge utility rate increases, fight for rate reductions and refunds of overcharges and appeal unfair regulatory decisions in the courts. CUB would serve to promote tougher consumer protection laws in the State Legislature, where rules governing the utilities are written, and publish consumer and educational materials. CUB would also work to ensure that the introduction of competition into the utility industry will finally begin to provide real benefits for real people, and not just added headaches and hassles.

Prior to 1995, CUB was funded through voluntary contributions solicited
through materials included in state agency mailings. In 1995, Governor
Pataki pulled the plug on CUB's access to state mailings, effectively
driving it into hibernation. This legislation seeks to revive CUB to
ensure that New York's residential consumers are well represented as
critical decisions are made regarding utility services.

This bill is modeled off of the hugely successful Illinois CUB. When the
Illinois General Assembly created CUB in 1983, it gave the nonprofit,
nonpartisan organization a clear mission: to represent the interests of
residential utility customers across the state. Since its inception in
1984, CUB has been doing just that -- working for lower rates and better service from the state's investor-owned electric, gas and telephone companies. Over the last 22 years, CUB has saved consumers more than $10 billion by blocking rate hikes and winning consumer refunds."

----------------------------------------

Excerpt from "Of Questionable Utility" by Jack Bradigan Spula
[Rochester City News 12/23/02]
http://www.rochester-citynews.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid\%3A1677

"What about the Citizens Utility Board? Founded in 1991,
the "CUB" was designed to engage ratepayers in issues before the
Public Service Commission. Unlike the agencies, the CUB was a
membership organization. But don't bother trying to locate the
organization today as you confront RG&E. Yes, CUB contact information
is posted on the Public Service Commission website. But the phone
number listed is dead.

PSC spokesperson David Flanagan confirmed the worst: The
CUB has folded. Its life was short. Though it enrolled 20,000 members
within a couple of years --- or perhaps because of that success ---
the CUB lost its state support. Specifically, says a memo from the
New York Public Interest Research Group, Governor Pataki defunded the group by failing to extend an executive order handed down by his
predecessor, Mario Cuomo.

The Cuomo order allowed the CUB to insert its membership outreach materials onto PSC mailings. Without this arrangement or an
alternative mechanism, the organization was reduced to a shell, then
disappeared."

----------------------------------------

From CitizensUtilityBoard.org...

[re: good work that Illinois Citizens Utility Board does]

The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) nonprofit, nonpartisian organization
that represents the interests of residential-utility customers of
Illinois.

News Release - September 18, 2006
CUB to Court: Reject the Auction!
Click on the image above to watch TV ad. You will need to have
Windows Media Player to watch the video.
In the wake of huge rate hikes announced for ComEd and Ameren
customers, CUB urged the state appellate court to reject the plan
because it's illegal and it hits consumers with unfair market prices
at a time when they can't choose another electric company. Read the
news release. In addition to the court challenge, CUB has launched a
campaign to get the state Legislature to extend the electric rate
freeze for three years. You can help consumers win! Go to CUB's
"Don't Get Shocked" Action Center.

News Release - September 15, 2006
Get Mad! Auction To Slam Customers
With Rate Hikes
Of 26-55\%
CUB has launched a campaign urging the state of Illinois to abandon its first power auction, which will spark rate hikes of 26-55 percent across the Land of Lincoln come Jan. 1. Read CUB's news releases for ComEd customers and for Ameren customers and then find out what you can do to stop these unjust increases at CUB's "Don't Get Shocked" Action Center. Finally, don't hesitate to rant and rave on CUB's blog.
Related news articles

St. Louis Post-Dispatch - September 15, 2006
Ameren customers in Illinois brace for a rate hike
Chicago Tribune - September 15, 2006
Prepare for a jolt: Electricity rates to jump 25\%
25\% jump estimated as a result of Illinois' 1st-time power auction

September 8, 2006
Goodbye 'Spanish-American War Tax'
We're happy, too, Mr. Roosevelt! Callers can smile knowing that the
phone tax created by the same war in 1898 that made T.R. and his
Rough Riders famous has finally been taken off long-distance bills.
Read CUB's fact sheet about the end of the tax, how the federal
government is giving out refunds or credits, and why the tax still
lives on local bills....and Hello Refunds!
The infamous 3 percent Federal Excise Tax, which was created 108
years ago to fund the Spanish-American War, has been removed from
long-distance telephone bills, and consumers who paid it are eligible
for a credit or refund. However, the tax still lives on local bills.
Get the details with CUB's new fact sheet.

September 6, 2006
An Opportunity to Save!
Callers Could Cut Phone Costs by Millions Under CUB Settlement
Chicago-area consumers could save $23.5 million annually for four
years under a CUB settlement that stops AT&T from completely
abolishing phone regulations and at the same time reduces and freezes the prices of low-cost calling packages. Read CUB's fact sheet on the AT&T settlement and see how you can save money.
Also, compare the consumer protections CUB won in Illinois versus
what AT&T has done in other Midwestern states where it won total
deregulation and jacked up phone rates.

News Release - August 22, 2006
100-Plus Consumers Crowd CUB Clinic
More than 100 people came to the beautiful Arlington Heights Memorial
Library for a CUB phone-bill clinic and walked away with tips on how
to put their phone-bills on a diet. Read about future CUB clinics and
senior fairs.

February 3, 2006
Step Right Up-To Save Money On Light Bulbs
CUB, the City of Chicago, and the Cook County State's Attorney's
office have teamed up to help consumers save money on their electric
bills. Learn how to buy discounted light bulbs that use up to 66
percent less energy and save consumers at least $30 over the life of
the bulb.

May 24, 2006
No Chattering Teeth, No Freezing Pipes
Waiting six days for gas service is bad enough, but Caitlin Devitt
wasn't about to go without heat during one of the coldest weekends of
the year.

----------------------------------------

From WisCub.org ...

[success stories from the Wisconsin Citizens Utility Board]

CUB Wins!

WEPCO Rate Case (05-UR-101)
CUB saves ratespayers $15 million and an additional $1 million per year!
Wisconsin Electric Power Company (WEPCO) applied to the PSC to
increase electric rates by $85 million for the ongoing construction
costs of the two 545-megawatt gas plants at Port Washington, and unit
1 of the Oak Creek coal plant. Based on CUB's intervention, WEPCO
reduced its request by $15 million. CUB also saved ratepayers
approximately $1 million per year by arguing for a different cost
allocation method. The PSC approved a $54 million electric rate
increase.

WP&L Fuel Cost Case (6680-UR-113)
Ratepayers save $11 million!
Wisconsin Power and Light (WP&L) applied to the PSC to raise electric
rates by $21 million to cover projected increases in natural gas
costs and the cost of purchasing power due to power plant shutdowns.
The PSC approved a $10 million increase.

WPS/WP&L Nuke Plant Sale (05-EI-136)
CUB initially stops sale -- is suing to overturn PSC flip flop
Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) and WP&L applied for permission to
sell the Kewaunee Nuclear Power Plant to a subsidiary of Dominion
Resources, an unregulated, out-of-state energy company. CUB argued
that the sale would result in a lack of public oversite of a nuclear
power plant located in Wisconsin, thereby greatly increasing risks to
Wisconsin's environment and economy. The PSC originally agreed with
CUB and disallowed the sale, only to reverse its decision in March
2005.

WP&L Winter Disconnect Proposal (6680-EI-111)
WPL shutoff denied!
WP&L requested authorization to implement a mid-winter disconnection
program for customers who do not pay their energy bill. CUB argued
that the existing procedures for dealing with late payments were
sufficient and that mid-winter shut-offs would put lives at risk. The
PSC agreed with CUB and denied WP&L's request.

----------------------------------------

From the September 21st Poughkeepsie Journal...

"Electric-Power Officials Enjoy Big Pay, Short Hours" by Jay Gallagher
[excerpt here below]
http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060921/NEWS01/609210331/1006

ALBANY - The former head of the not-for-profit organization that runs
the state's electric markets was paid $656,000 last year despite
working only five months, and directors were paid as much as $130,000
while declaring they worked only 12 hours a month, according to the
group's tax returns.

Critics say the payouts are excessive, while supporters say they're
necessary to attract and keep qualified executives.

The organization, known as the Independent System Operator, spent
more than $148 million last year. That included more than $5 million
on outside lawyers paid around $250 per hour, $2.5 million for
conventions, meetings and travel, and more than $10 million for other
consultants.

The system, established in 1999 to run New York's electric markets
and the transmission system as part of the movement to deregulate
utilities and increase competition, gets its money from utilities,
power generators and - ultimately -- from ratepayers.

The payout to the former system CEO, William Museler, was a
combination of salary, bonuses and other deferred compensation,
system spokesman Garry Brown said. In 2004, Museler made $727,000 in
salary and bonuses, according to the tax records. His successor, Mark
Lynch, a former Mirant Corp. power-company executive, got $344,000 in
compensation and the company kicked in another $301,000 for benefits,
according to the tax records, for the 10 months he worked for the
system last year.

Pay for the nine-member board of directors ranged from $90,750 to
$136,000 to the chairman, John Boston, who has since retired. Under
the heading of "time devoted to position," all of the directors said
they worked 12 hours a month.

Brown said that's how long the monthly board meetings last, and that
usually they also are on the phone or doing other work for longer
periods.

State intervention urged

Critics said the salaries and the overall expenses are too high, and
the state should step in to try to reduce them to save ratepayers
money.

"On their face, they're excessive," Ben Wiles, a lawyer with the
Public Utility Law Project, a consumer-advocacy group, said of the
salaries. "By public-entity standards, they are a lot of money."

But ISO officials and others in the industry said the salaries are
competitive with similar organizations and that expenses are tightly
monitored..

Comparisons with other similar organizations around the country are
difficult because compensation is reported differently. But a check
of some other similar organizations found no board members making
close to the pay of the New York system.

The Independent System Operators were set up by the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission starting in 1996 to make sure that all
generators had a fair shot at getting their power transmitted.
Utilities, which used to own both power plants and the power lines,
have gradually moved out of the business of generating power as state
and federal regulators decided that prices would go down if more
companies were allowed to compete to sell power.

Prices have risen in New York, and some see the system as part of the reason.

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Mayra PriceBy:
City LifeIn:
Petition target:
New York State Residents

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