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Lawmakers say utility bills should be more predictable, less erratic

A new measure proposed by state lawmakers seeks to bring more predictability to utility bills for New York residents. The bipartisan proposal would require utility companies to perform actual meter readings, unless they are unable to do so due to circumstances beyond their control, like extreme weather.

This legislation aims to address the fluctuations in utility costs caused by estimated billing, which can result in unexpected and inaccurate bills for New Yorkers. The measure was unanimously approved by lawmakers in the Democratic-led state Senate, backed by state Sen. Michelle Hinchey.

Hinchey believes that all New Yorkers should be able to budget effectively from month to month, without worrying about inaccurate utility bills draining their savings accounts. The proposed legislation seeks to ban the practice of using estimation formulas that are not based on past usage, bringing transparency and accountability to the utility industry in New York.

The new measure was approved as utility costs continue to skyrocket due to the ongoing war in Ukraine and rising inflation. Lawmakers are closely monitoring the situation in the Hudson Valley, where costs have spiked this winter.

In addition to requiring actual meter readings, the measure also requires the Public Service Commission to create an estimation formula that would be used as an industry standard by utilities. Estimated billing would be limited to three billing cycles a year. Regulators at the commission have until November 1 of this year to develop the formula.

Overall, the new measure aims to provide New Yorkers with more transparency and predictability in their utility bills, ensuring that they can budget effectively and avoid unexpected costs.