Ridge, NY - January 10, 2017 - On Tuesday, January 10th, Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker joined local senior residents at the Leisure Village clubhouse to protest the rate increases recently announced by the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). Previously, LIPA had stated that the average user’s bill would only increase by $3.25, but are now claiming that “updates and revision” have led to higher numbers.
Last week, LIPA announced that the average customer who used 775 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy in December will see an increase of $7.57 in their total energy bill, or 5.4% increase.
In addition to the rate increases and the power supply and delivery charges, the LIPA bill also includes a decoupling charge and delivery service adjustment fees. These new fees were implemented in 2016 and allow LIPA to recoup revenue that fluctuates due to weather, green energy, and labor agreements. The skyrocketing energy costs disproportionately affect the most vulnerable populations in Suffolk County, especially senior citizens who have all-electric utilities and live on fixed incomes.
“The LIPA rate increases come as a shock to many residents across Suffolk County as they are more than double what LIPA had previously stated. Electricity is an indispensable necessity of life and many residents cannot afford the high electric rates. Lower-income families and seniors on fixed incomes are more vulnerable to energy costs than higher-income families because energy costs represent a larger portion of their household budgets,” said Legislator Anker. “As a result, those on fixed incomes must make difficult and even dangerous decisions, and are forced to choose between heating their homes, paying for food, or purchasing prescription medications.”
“People in all-electric communities get hit particularly hard in the winter months. Their use of energy in the winter is double and triple the average 775 kWh projected by LIPA,” said Gail Blair, AARP representative and Leisure Village resident. “Does this mean that in the future, these customers will have their rates double and triple the projected $7.57 increase?”
Legislator Anker is urging the LIPA board to revisit the rate increases and to specifically consider the burdensome impact these increases have on our senior population. In addition, along with AARP, she is encouraging New York State to adopt legislation that would create an Independent Utility Consumer Advocate to provide greater accountability and oversight for our utility needs. AARP has stressed the need for residential ratepayers to have independent representation to support them on major matters affecting the reliability and affordability of essential utility services.
“Some senior residents who have all-electric utilities pay over $1,000 per month in electric costs,” said Legislator Anker. “Having an Independent Utility Consumer Advocate would level the playing field between the consumer and the utility companies.”
New York State has the ability to pass legislation to amend the Public Service Law to create the State Office of the Utility Consumer Advocate. The office would be independent and represent the interest of the residential utility customer. It would create transparency, oversight, and accountability over rate increases throughout the state. New York State is only one of ten states that does not have an Independent Utility Consumer Advocate. In 2015, both the New York State Assembly and Senate introduced legislation (A.180/S.3356) to create the State Office of the Utility Consumer Advocate. The legislation passed through the Assembly, but did not pass through the Senate.
For more information about the LIPA rate increases and the need for an Independent Utility Consumer Advocate, please call Legislator Anker’s office at 631-854-1600.