ALBANY - A recently released AARP shows that close to half of New York residents say it is difficult to pay their utility bills.
The survey found that overall concerns of increased utilities costs run high - with 53 percent of New York residents being extremely or very concerned about their heating/cooling bills increasing and nearly two-thirds stating that in the past two years their utilities bills had increased.
"These survey results are troubling. New Yorkers are not only struggling to pay their utility bills but are concerned that their bills will go up even more in the future," said Joan Parrott-Fonseca, AARP New York state director. "We know that New Yorkers pay some of the highest electricity rates in the country and we believe our state leaders need to address this problem."
As part of a recent $245 million settlement of its investigation of alleged manipulation of the New York Independent System Operator electricity markets by Constellation Energy Commodities Group Inc., the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has set aside a $78 million fund for the benefit of electricity customers in New York state.
AARP has recommended to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Eric Schneiderman, state attorney general,and the New York Public Service Commission that the $78 million settlement money be used to pay for weatherization, home energy assistance and energy efficient appliance rebate programs. In addition, money should be used to provide a voice for consumers by establishing an independent office or organization that provides consumer advocacy at the NYISO and at Public Service Commission rate increase proceedings.
"It would be a lost opportunity for all New Yorkers who struggle every month to pay their utility bills if the governor, attorney general, and the PSC do not submit a plan that uses a substantial portion of the settlement money for programs that would help people afford their bills and to create a strong independent voice for consumers," said Parrott-Fonseca.
The survey titled, "2012 Survey of New York Residents on Utilities," surveyed more than 800 New Yorkers 18 years and older by telephone between Feb. 22 through April 29. For more information about the survey, including a copy of the survey report, visit www.aarp.org/ny.