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New York: You’ve Been Duped by the Utilities

Listen up, New Yorkers.  If you paid a utility bill within the last five years, you were probably overcharged.  According to a member of the Public Service Commission (PSC), New York utility customers have been overcharged by roughly $250 million as part of a state-imposed surcharge.

New York State created the 18-a energy surcharge in 2009, and since then, the “temporary tax” has collected $2.9 billion.  Instead of putting the money toward energy conservation programs like the state promised, Public Service Commission member Diane Burman reveled that it was shuffled into the state’s general fund.  (So much for that free air conditioner you were promised.)

“What I find disturbing is we are having to revisit just how awful the 2009 law was and devastating effects the collections can have on New Yorkers,” Burman stated at the monthly PSC meeting.  “We are now first addressing that in some cases the collections may have been significantly overcollected to the tune of close to $250 million dollars.”

Burman also expressed her thoughts on how the state needs to protect its customers and avoid these surcharges, which are impeding the state’s economic costs.

I continue to remain concerned that our overreliance on energy-tax surcharges – which extends beyond just 18-a surcharges but also with other non-legislatively enacted State surcharges – and the way they are being collected and allowed to build up are setting us up for more problems and complications.

The surcharge was scheduled to expire this year, but Governor Andrew Cuomo extended it during the creation of last year’s budget.  The Business Council of New York has predicted this would cost taxpayers nearly three billion dollars over the next six years.  Fortunately, Governor Cuomo and the NY Legislature agreed to finally have the surcharge phased out by 2017.

Hang in there, New York.  Only a few more years to go.

For more information on how to obtain a utility bill audit, click here.

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