News Tips

Yesterday we told you about why your electric bills this month might be double of what they were last year.

Today is the story of a group trying to do something about it.

The AARP is trying to fight back against utility bills it says are the second-highest in the country. It’s calling for the state to create a utility consumer advocate.

“Right now, the utility companies go and present their rate case to the Public Service Commission and there’s no one really battling for the consumer,” AARP state associate director Bill Armbruster said.

Because of the brutal winter, many electricity bills in Genesee County this month are double what they were last year, due to a dramatic rise in demand for natural gas.

“If your utility bill is $150, $200 more a month than you has expected,” Armbruster said, “that really does cut into options for food, for prescriptions, for other types of things. It transcends all ages.”

New York is the largest state that does not have an independent utility consumer advocate office. Armbruster says the goal is to employ someone who has the expertise to fight for consumers.

“It would have the power to sue on behalf of rate payers, sue the Public Service Commission, and represent consumers in rate cases,” he said.

The measure has support in the Democratic-led Assembly, though it’s unclear if it will be included in the upcoming final budget.

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