On November 14, 2016, NYLAG submitted public comments in proceedings before the New York State Public Service Commission (“Commission”) regarding the unlawful and abusive practices in bringing so-called “replevin” actions to seize the electrical meters of customers in arrears. The comments were submitted in connection with a petition filed by the Public Utility Law Project of New York (“PULP”), in which PULP asked the Commission to investigate these practices.
NYLAG’s concerns are based on the first-hand experience of NYLAG attorneys in the course of representing clients in replevin actions and advising other consumers who contacted NYLAG about Con Ed. In addition, NYLAG interviewed defendants in these proceedings, and also reviewed relevant documents and other sources.
NYLAG’s comments raised several concerns, including that the “voluntary” informal settlement conferences that Con Ed held in City courthouses give customers the illusion that the meetings are court-sanctioned actions, when they are not; that Con Ed’s practices violate the New York Civil Procedure Law and Rules; and that the practices do not adequately respect customers’ rights under the Home Energy Fair Practices Act (“HEFPA”), including protections for customers with special needs like medical emergencies or disabilities, and procedural protections surrounding settlement plans. NYLAG urged the Commission to take actions to redress these violations and ensure that customers are treated fairly going forward.
On August 2, 2017, the Commission announced that it is requiring Con Ed to make significant changes in its replevin practices. NYLAG applauds this decision and urges the Commission to continue to scrutinize Con Ed’s practices to ensure they are fair, lawful, and transparent.
NYLAG Attorneys: Danielle Tarantolo, Kevin Thomas