Tenants of Riverview II, a former Mitchell-Lama housing project in Yonkers, are again asking the Public Service Commission to halt submetering. Faced with new bills for electricity not offset by rent reductions or allowances under HUD-regulated subsidy programs for low and moderate income households, the tenants filed a petition in April, 2009, asking the PSC to stay and vacate its prior order that had allowed a waiver of the general prohibition against submetering. The April petition raised a variety of procedural, environmental, and economic issues, as well as non compliance with the PSC Order allowing submetering. See Yonkers Tenants Ask PSC to Halt Submetering at Riverview Towers, PULP Network, April 9, 2009.
As in several other cases where tenants petitioned the PSC for relief from submetering, the Commission Secretary initially referred the Riverview II case to the Office of Consumer Services (OCS) to be handled as an ordinary consumer complaint.
Shunting the petitions into the OCS complaint department avoided -- or at least delayed -- consideration by the PSC Commissioners themselves whether to stop the contested submetering. OCS lacks power to change or vacate a PSC order, and has taken more than a year in other cases just to issue first level determinations (in a three-step review process) that skirt issues raised by tenants. See, e.g., PSC Secretary Finds No Evidence of Delay in Handling Hazel Towers Tenant Complaints Regarding Submetering, Motion to Recuse OCS Hearing Officer for refusing to consider issues raised by Hazel Towers complainants, andResponse of Hazel Towers Tenants Association; Parker Towers Tenants Still Waiting for PSC Action on Petition to Halt Submetering; Town House West Tenants Association Files Supplemental Complaint Against Stellar Management's New, Unfiled Conditions of Submetered Electric Service; Tiffany Mews Tenants Ask PSC to Halt Submetering with No Proper Order and No Filed Tariff or Contracts Approved by the PSC.
Without action by OCS to remedy the major problems, the Riverview II Tenants Association re-petitioned the PSC to vacate or modify the prior order on an emergency basis. See Yonkers Riverview II Tenants' Association Petition filed on October 12, 2009. The renewed petition cites stays of submetering issued in other recent cases. See PSC Stops Submetering at Four Buildings, Sets New Standards to Address Tenant Concerns, PULP Network, September 17, 2009.
For more information, see PULP's web page on submetering.