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March 30, 2020

NYS Public Service Commission Updates Due to COVID-19

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many New York State agencies are doing their parts to protect the public health by following best practices. New York State’s Department of Public Service (DPS) and Public Service Commission (PSC), in implementing these best practices, are continuing to do their important work remotely, as seen by their recent actions discussed below.

On March 25, 2020, the chair of the PSC, John Rhodes, approved an order that will allow New York American Water to delay implementing the previously approved rate increase scheduled to take effect on April 1, 2020, under its existing four-year rate plan. Similarly, the chair approved an order allowing National Grid’s upstate electric and gas utility to postpone implementing previously approved delivery rate increases that would have also taken effect on April 1, 2020, under the utility’s existing three-year rate plan.

In Case 18-M-0084, In the Matter of a Comprehensive Energy Efficiency Initiative, the PSC acknowledged that the public health crisis being experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting New Yorkers both personally and professionally. As a result, DPS staff is seeking input from the industry on the impacts being experienced, programmatic modifications, and ideas that should be considered to sustain New York’s clean energy agenda. To that end, DPS is scheduling a series of input sessions focused on the various components of the clean energy industries. The first input session was held on March 27, 2020, and focused on the workforce supporting energy efficiency and heat pump programs and initiatives. DPS staff’s presentation is available at COVID-19 input session, where staff requested written comments to be filed by April 1, 2020, in Case 18-M-0084.

It’s also important to note that not everything is being suspended due to COVID-19. Last week, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) asked for an extension for the filing of its direct testimony in the Mohawk Solar Article 10 proceeding, a utility-scale solar project. DEC cited disruptions from the pandemic and difficulties with staff having to work remotely in accordance with state directives. On March 24, 2020, the hearing examiners rejected DEC’s request given the longstanding nature of the deadline, which was set in August 2019. The examiners noted they would grant the extension if the developer agreed to extend the 12-month statutory deadline under Article 10.

As to the filing procedures with the agency, DPS has temporarily suspended all mail and hand-delivery filings to their Albany office. All filings are to be filed through the DPS’s online platform called the document and matter management (DMM) system. For help registering for this platform, visit the DPS website.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Brenda Colella, Regulatory Practice Area co-chair and co-team leader of the Renewable Energy and Energy Markets Teams, at bcolella@barclaydamon.com; Ekin Senlet, partner, at esenlet@barclaydamon.com; or Angela Sicker, law clerk, at asicker@barclaydamon.com.

We have a specific team of Barclay Damon attorneys who are actively working on assessing regulatory, legislative, and other governmental updates related to COVID-19 and who are prepared to assist clients. You can reach our COVID-19 Response Team at COVID-19ResponseTeam@barclaydamon.com.

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