NY Public Service Commission Grants Emergency Stay of Urban America's Eastwood/Roosevelt Landings Electricity Submetering Charge Increases
The immediate worries of the Eastwood/Roosevelt Landings residents that their monthly electricity bills could shoot up to as much as $1, 000 was temporarily alleviated yesterday by the granting of an emergency stay by the NY State Public Service Commission prohibiting Urban America from charging for electricity based upon submetering of electricity usage.
According to the decision, which was in response to a petition brought by Roosevelt Island elected representatives (Assembly Member Kellner, State Senator Serrano, Congresswomen Maloney, City Councilmember Lappin and Borough President Stringer) the Public Service Commission ruled:
... To ensure that vulnerable tenants are not harmed by submetering and to ensure that the Owner does not undermine the tenants’ HEFPA protections, the Submetering Order granting authority to submeter must be and is stayed pursuant to PSL §22 and this Order. Specifically, pursuant to this stay, the Owner shall not utilize the submetering system to measure electric service andAs reported by the Public Utility Law Project (PULP):
shall not charge tenants for submetered electricity unless and until authorized to do
so by a further Commission order....
... the Commission may have been unaware, when it issued an order waiving its regulations against submetering in November 2008 thatAssembly Member Kellner adds:
- heating bills are being shifted to tenants
- the tenants have low incomes
- the charges for electricity are not offset by commensurate reductions in rent
- the premises and fixtures are not energy efficient
- charges for electricity are deemed to be "additional rent," subjecting tenants to eviction for nonpayment of electricity charges
- the landlord's grievance procedure may subtly evade the requirements of the Home Energy Fair Practices Act (HEFPA) by channeling disputes over electricity charges to eviction proceedings instead of to the PSC for decision.
The Stay is good until the rehearing of the application is complete. The notice of the rehearing must be posted for 10 days & then there is 45 day comment period. Hopefully by the end of that process the PSC will be convinced that submetering is inappropriate for Eastwood and deny the application.Below is the decision by the Public Service Commission temporarily stopping the electricity submetering of Eastwood/Roosevelt Landings residents and billing them for charges based upon the submetered readings.
Roosevelt Landings Psc Decision
UPDATE - 2/15 - The 2/14 NY Times, following up on this article, reports:
...“Until management takes responsibility for the building repairs, it’s unconscionable for them to dump their responsibility onto the backs of their tenants,” said Joyce S. Mincheff, president of the residents’ association at the complex.The 2/7 Main Street WIRE provides some additional background on Eastwood/Roosevelt Landings electricity submetering controversy as well.
Joe DePlasco, a spokesman for Urban American, said the company intended to work with tenants, government agencies and elected officials to make the plan a success. “The submetering program is intended to help conserve energy, which is something that we remain committed to,” he said....
Urban American had originally hoped to be at this sample billing stage much earlier, according to sources familiar with the progress toward submetering. Because it has begun in cold months, tenants have seen what could be the worst possible cost figures. In theory, lower summertime costs might go some way toward balancing out high winter-season heating costs, making annual cost somewhat closer to the rent-reduction number for the year.UPDATE - 2/17 - The Public Utility Law Project has more information on what tenants need to know about residential electricity submetering.
But tenant leaders in the building are taking no chances. They're looking for every possible way to reduce the electricity charges they'll soon see on rent bills.