Monday, June 21, 2010

Rent Stabilized Tenants Oppose Coop Plan to Replace Con Edison with Submetered Electric Service

On March 4, 2010, Bay City Metering Company, Inc., an unregulated provider of utility services to owners selling submetered electric service to tenants, filed an application with the New York State Public Service Commission to replace individual directed metered Con Edison electric service with submetered service at a New York City residential cooperative at 61 Jane Street. Public Service Commission regulations generally prohibit residential submetering, but allow it on a case by case basis.

According to the application, coop shareholders could save money by purchasing electricity in a different bulk rate classification instead of receiving service at the rate applicable to residential customers. Physically, Con Edison meters now measuring service to apartments would be replaced by the owner's meters:
The existing metering system consisting of electro-mechanical meters located throughout the building in meter banks and this system will be retained with the existing meters being removed and returned to the Con Edison Company and new meters of the same type and manufacturer as the Con Edison Company currently installs will be installed in the existing meter sockets within the building.
Bay City's application was revised, and revised a second time. A notice was placed in the State Register inviting public comment on the application.

On May 24, 2010, rent stabilized tenants residing in the building moved to intervene in the case and filed comments opposing the plan that would require them to purchase electric service from their landlord. The comments argue that
  • Con Edison has a statutory and common law duty to continue to serve its customers.
  • The usual rationale for submetering, energy efficiency, is inapplicable because residents are already direct metered for all their usage by Con Edison.
  • Residents would be "slammed" into taking service from the owner without their informed consent.
  • Savings from submetering are exaggerated, and if there are savings there is no assurance that any savings would be passed through to tenants.
  • Residents would lose service options they now have from Con Edison, such as time of use rates, green energy, and choice of ESCO providers.
  • Residents who have chosen ESCO service will have to halt it and may be exposed to early termination fees.
  • Tenants would receive service from owners of the apartment in which they reside, and would not be customers of the entity seeking permission to submeter.
  • The PSC would unconstitutionally abridge contracts of the residents with Con Edison if it requires a conversion to submetered service.
The tenants are represented by PULP. For more information, see PULP's webpage on submetering.

No comments: