AARP NY, PULP Applaud Passage of Bill That Would Ease Access to Utility Assistance for New Yorkers in Need
‘Benefits Matching’ Legislation is Aimed at Aiding 1.1M Households
Albany, NY – Today, AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel and Public Utility Law Project (PULP) Executive Director and Counsel Laurie Wheelock issued the following statement after both the Assembly and Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation (S4548/A4876) to require the State to automatically enroll eligible New York households in the energy utilities’ monthly low-income bill discount program.
“We commend the Legislature for passing utilities benefits matching legislation, which would bring relief to so many New Yorkers who are struggling to pay their already high utility bills,” Finkel said. “We especially thank Senator Kevin Parker of Brooklyn and Assembly Member Michaelle Solages of Nassau County for their leadership in sponsoring this legislation to establish an automated benefits matching program to enroll those in need for assistance paying their utility bills.”
“PULP extends our heartfelt gratitude to Senator Parker and Assembly Member Solages for their steadfast advocacy on behalf of New York’s low- and fixed-income utility consumers,” Wheelock said. “Benefits matching is the singular measure the state can take right now to remove unnecessary hurdles and streamline enrollment in the energy utility companies’ low-income bill discount program. The credits low-income customers receive on a monthly basis help relieve financial stress from customers’ energy bills, allowing them to spend more on other essentials such as rent/mortgage, food, medicine and more.”
The legislation would require the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) to coordinate with utility companies providing electric and natural gas to establish an automated data matching program to identify and enroll eligible rate payers in their utilities’ energy affordability program. Currently, about 1.1 million low-income households in New York – an estimated 2.6 million people – who are eligible for their utility’s energy assistance program aren’t enrolled.
New York City already has an automatic benefits matching system in place. The Parker-Solages bill would standardize this process statewide, with all utilities participating.
The bill now goes to Governor Hochul.
“The Governor must sign this legislation into law,” Finkel said. “By doing so, she will ensure those who need financial relief the most don’t fall through the cracks.”
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation’s largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org, www.aarp.org/espanol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on social media.
PULP is New York’s sole independent organization dedicated to empowering and protecting the rights of low-income and fixed-income utility consumers. For 40 years, PULP has educated, advocated and litigated on behalf of affordability, consumer protection and universal access to utilities. To learn more, visit www.utilityproject.org, follow @utilityproject on Twitter, or visit PULP at www.facebook.com/utilityproject.