Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Latest on Electricity Submetering at Roosevelt Island's Roosevelt Landings/Eastwood Buildings - Public Service Commission Recent Decision Requires Landlord Urban American To Demonstrate Thermostat Installation, Energy Efficiency Measures, No Tenant Evictions For Non Payment Of Electric Charges & More Before Subemetering Can Begin Says Assembly Member Kellner

The headline in this article from yesterday's Crains New York Business claimed:

Big landlord wins 1st round of submetering fight

Urban American wins state approval of its plan to install meters and have tenants at 1,800 apartments in Harlem pay for their own electricity, arguing it would save money and power; fate of 1,100 Roosevelt Island units uncertain....
According to the Crains article the NY State Public Service Commission:
... approved the company's plan for 1,800 apartments in three Harlem buildings. Based on unofficial meter readings from individual apartments, Urban American claimed that 70% of tenants would save money under submetering, rather than paying a fixed amount to cover energy. The state agreed....
The Roosevelt Island residents directly impacted by the submetering attempt by Urban American are tenants at Roosevelt Landings, formerly known as Eastwood which was privatized and taken out of the Mitchell Lama program several years ago.

Why do Roosevelt Landings/Eastwood tenants object to electricity submetering for their apartments? Roosevelt Island Assembly Member Micah Kellner answered that question in a June 2010 post.
... The submetering plan at Eastwood presented a host of problems for tenants. The building’s poor insulation and clunky electric heat would have meant that under submetering, tenants would be paying enormous electric bills just to keep warm in the winter. And the electric charges would be deemed as rent in tenants’ leases–meaning that tenants could be taken to housing court and potentially evicted for nonpayment of their electric bills. Tenants faced the prospect of having to choose between paying the rent and heating their homes...
After reading yesterday's Crains article, I asked Assembly Member Kellner for a comment.

 Image of Mr. Kellner Speaking at 2009 Eastwood/Roosevelt Landings Submetering Forum

Mr. Kellner replied:
The Crains’ article was factually inaccurate— All that the PSC has done with their most recent decision is reaffirm what they previously stated. Specifically, in order to submeter, the Landlord must:
  • Submit plans to the PSC demonstrating that tenants as a group are not disadvantaged financially as a result of submetering;
  • Conduct a consultative process in which all interested parties are involved. 
  • Submit documentation showing that individual thermostats have been installed in all apartments with certification from engineer;
  • Provide tenants with information concerning ways to reduce electricity usage;
  • Submit documentation that the buildings in question are participating in the NYSERDA Multifamily Performance Program (MPP) and all energy efficiency measures have been fully implemented;
  • Submit documentation of the installation of Energy Star refrigerators.
  • Clarify that no tenant can be evicted for non-payment of electric charges
We are still a long ways away from submetering in Urban America’s Harlem buildings and even further away in Roosevelt Landing. For all of buildings, the Landlord must return to the PSC to prove these conditions have been met. Until the day comes when thermostats are being installed in individual apartments, we will not know if they are truly serious about energy efficiency.
The Public Service Commission decision is not yet publicly available. Will post it when it is. The bottom line according to Mr. Kellner is that nothing has changed in regard to Urban American's attempt to submeter electricity usage at Roosevelt Landings/Eastwood due to this recent Public Service Commission decision.