June 27, 2014
With a predicted scorching summer on the way in New York, AARP is making another prediction: soaring electric bills to match soaring temperatures - all just in time for cooling season.
A new report out from AARP's Public Policy Institute says that, nationwide, electric bills will likely increase by about 5 percent this summer for residential consumers. In New York, electric rates have already soared to nearly double that, 9.8 percent over last summer's rates. The average for the region is a 6.2 percent increase over this point in last summer.
It all comes down to seemingly just pennies on the dollar, last year New Yorkers summer rates were ¢17.80 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), this year they are already ¢19.56 per kWh- but AARP warns they add up, particularly for older residents and families on budgets.
"For older consumers, a group prone to heat related illnesses such as heat stroke, high cooling costs could prove fatal - the threat of high bills finds some not turning on their air-conditioning when they should," said Beth Finkel, State Director for AARP in New York. "One thing is clear: our members, the 50plus and indeed most New Yorkers are sick of paying sky-high utility bills to simply stay comfortable, and in many cases healthy."
In April of 2014, New Yorker's electric rates were already nearly 60 percent higher than the national average.
This legislative session in New York, AARP pressed for an independent utility consumer advocate, a watchdog which most other states have, to combat unfair rate hikes and represent consumers before the New York Public Service Commission. The issue passed the Assembly with bipartisan support, and was supported by Senator Jeff Klein and the Independent Democratic Conference, but was stonewalled by Senator Dean Skelos and his conference.
Neighboring Connecticut's independent utility consumer advocate reported saving ratepayers $730 million in 2012 at a cost of $3 million - a 243-1 return on investment. California's advocate reported a 153-1 return. Across the United States, utility consumer advocates save Americans billions of dollars a year.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services. A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world's largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity of AARP that is working to win back opportunity for struggling Americans 50+ by being a force for change on the most serious issues they face today: housing, hunger, income and isolation. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.
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