Published: Summer 1999
WATER BOARD INCREASES RATES
AND ADOPTS OTHER CHANGES
The New York City Water Board has enacted an increase of 4%
in water rates for all metered and unmetered city customers
effective July 1, 1999. Sewer charge increase also as they are
assessed at 159% of the water charge.
As has been extensively reported in CNYC's Newsletter, the Universal
Water Metering Program was instituted in 1987 to install water meters
in every building in New York City with the goal of water conservation.
Once a meter was installed, multiple dwellings were allowed a transitional
year on the frontage charge to detect and correct leaks, and
then, in theory, the building was to be billed on water use as reflected
in the meter reading. However, ever since 1991, although the meter installation
has proceeded, the Water Board has annually extended the transition program,
enabling buildings to continue on the flat-rate frontage billing if they
so chose. The Water Board has renewed this transition option for another
The Water Board also modified its complaint procedure, effective with
this billing period. In the past, customers had six years to file complaints
on billings; this standard continues to apply to bills issued prior to
July 1, 1999. However, for bills issued after July 1, 1999, customers
must file complaints within two years of the date of the bill.
The Water Board preserved the Leak Forgiveness Program, but changed eligibility
from once in 18 months to once in two years. This program enables a customer
to request that the bill for the occurrence of a leak be cut in half,
subject to a minimum 150% of the prior average daily consumption.
SAVINGS ONLY MINIMAL IN
OF ELECTRICITY DEREGULATION
As the second year of electric deregulation unfolds in New York State,
little saving is evident in the rates charged by independent Energy Service
Companies (ESCOs). The savings on sales tax which is an incidental benefit
of the unbundling of energy purchase from transmission of
that energy (a service which Con Edison retains) will evaporate once the
State budget for fiscal 2000 is implemented. Until the stranded
costs of maintaining infrastructure are phased out of the rates
which the utilities are permitted to charge for transmission, electricity
deregulation itself will not produce great savings. Rather it is through
conservation that energy dollars will be saved. To this end, many ESCOs
are offering a variety of conservation audits and services which will
help buildings effectuate more significant energy savings.
It is anticipated that the State legislature will be reviewing the current
deregulation program with a view to helping consumers effectuate more
substantial savings through deregulation. All electricity is scheduled
to be deregulated by the year 2002.
Past issues of this Newsletter have discussed the importance of electrical
submetering as a conservation tool. Once individual apartment
dwellers see and pay for the actual energy they consume, conservation
is fostered. Energy engineer Herb Hirschfeld has a grant from
the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency
(NYSERDA) to promote submetering in multi-family housing.
Mr. Hirschfeld will be conducting two workshops in the autumn,
one on October 14th and the second at CNYCs annual Conference
the following month. He will describe submetering and present
state-of-the-art devices for recording and analyzing energy
use. His grant also includes funding to provide submetering
feasibility studies for a number of buildings.
Mastermetering coupled with submetering positions a building to participate
most effectively in deregulation.
TO BRING REVERSE MORTGAGES
TO HOUSING CO-OPS
CNYC added reverse mortgages to its list of legislative priorities this
year. This excellent financial resource is not currently available to
housing cooperatives, because they are specifically excluded in the federal
enabling legislation. Senator Toricelli of New Jersey has taken the initiative
of eliminating this restriction. He is working closely with the National
Association of Housing Cooperative to secure widespread support for passage.
A reverse mortgage is a commitment from a lender to pay a fixed monthly
sum to a homeowner, collateralized by the value of the home. At the term
of the mortgage, the homeowner or their heirs owe an amount to the lender
equal to the payments received plus an agreed-upon rate of return (interest).
Reverse mortgages enable elderly homeowners to make use of the equity
in their homes often permitting them to remain in that home longer than
might otherwise have been possible. Other applications could include ensuring
income during a special time such as caring for a sick spouse or relative,
or taking time off to raise a child.