NEW YORK, NY (April 7, 2017) — Energy law firm Funk & Zeifer LLP represented the Community Housing Improvement Program (“CHIP”), a large trade association of multiple-dwelling building owners in NYC, as an intervenor in the 2016 Con Edison gas and electric utility rate cases. Peter Funk of Funk & Zeifer, on behalf of CHIP, presented and negotiated CHIP requirements for agreeing to a “Joint Proposal” (a document used for the purpose of settling a rate case) and worked with other intervenors to achieve, among other issues and requirements, the following.
- Lower Con Edison Rates – Con Edison requested substantial increases for gas delivery and electric delivery over a single year with further increases to be requested in future years. PSC staff, other intervenors and CHIP succeeded in negotiating significantly lower amounts over a 3-year period to forestall future rate cases during that period. CHIP made arguments unique to some of its constituents, namely, the burden of higher utility rates on affordable housing.
- Gas Restoration Working Group – Con Edison is now required to negotiate with interested intervenors to discuss and address concerns over the procedure of and delays in the restoration of gas service to residential buildings to address the issues owners of buildings have encountered in having Con Edison restore service following a gas turn-off by the utility. A Gas Restoration Working Group has been formed including representatives from Con Edison, CHIP (and Funk & Zeifer), the NYS Department of Public Service Staff and other rate case participants to work towards achieving these goals, and meetings are in progress.
- Billing Practices Working Group – Con Edison is now required to negotiate with interested intervenors to discuss and address concerns over Con Edison’s transferring arrearages from tenants that have vacated an apartment to a building’s master/common area account. The PSC order requires Con Edison to negotiate with CHIP and other interested parties to improve Con Edison’s account termination procedures to prevent the merger of tenant balances with owner accounts. This billing practice is difficult to detect because of the lack of notice and, if detected, even more difficult to address through normal Con Edison customer service channels. This working group has started discussions with a kick-off meeting.
- Notice to Owners on Re-Setting of Gas Meters - Con Edison has occasionally installed oversized turbine gas meters that can result in inaccurate measurement of gas consumption and attempted to correct that under-reading by re-setting the volume corrector (also called a Mini-Max), which can result in significant over-reading (see our News Item “Utility Dispute Settlement”). As a result of Funk & Zeifer’s negotiations in the Con Edison gas rate case on behalf of CHIP, commencing during October of 2017, the utility is now required to notify customers following any re-setting of the volume corrector on the customer’s gas meter which results in back-billing and to also provide the reason and details for such re-setting.
Peter Funk is an energy attorney whose renewable and alternative energy practice encompasses comprehensive handling of renewable energy, cogeneration and energy conservation projects. Engagements have included private and public on-site cogeneration, metering, renewable energy conservation measures, energy management and data centers as well as solar, biomass and biogas installations and waste-to-energy.
Funk is co-founder of the energy law boutique Funk & Zeifer LLP based in New York City.