Councilman Rory Lancman, who’s represented his native Council District 24 since 2014, is leaving office to take on the new position of statewide Special Counsel for Ratepayer Protection beginning Wednesday, Nov. 4.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the new appointment on Friday, Oct. 30, after announcing earlier in the week that the state Senate and Assembly would introduce legislation to make a slew of reforms to the way utility companies are penalized after failing to provide service to consumers.
“Utility companies do not have a God-given right to operate in New York, and when they abuse and bully consumers they must be held accountable. I am creating a new position of Special Counsel for Ratepayer Protection at the Department of Public Service to help ensure that happens,” said Cuomo. “Rory Lancman has a long record of public service and his background makes him ideally suited to help protect the interests of New Yorkers and ensure they get the service they deserve.”
In his new role, Lancman, who is term limited, will represent the interests of residential and commercial customers of New York’s regulated electric, gas, water and telecom companies. He will participate as a party in Public Service Commission proceedings, conduct hearings and investigations, undertake discovery to compel documents and testimony, and otherwise marshal the resources of the Department of Public Service to safeguard the interests of ratepayers and hold accountable those utilities and telecoms which fail to meet their contractual and regulatory obligations to their customers.
“Every New Yorker should be able to turn on the lights, heat their homes and open their faucets to clean water because their electricity, gas and water providers are meeting their obligations to provide safe, reliable and affordable service as the law requires,” said Lancman. “I’m honored by the governor’s appointment and grateful for his commitment to holding New York’s utilities and telecoms accountable to their most important constituency — the rate paying public.”
As Special Counsel, Lancman will work to enhance and strengthen the department’s existing protections of utility consumer interests.
His primary role will include determining whether utilities are making the investments required, whether utilities are performing as required, whether utilities are responding adequately to consumers both in residential and commercial settings, and whether utilities are complying with renewable energy goals and standards.
In his role, he may make presentations to the New York State Public Service Commission at its monthly meetings on findings and file regular reports to the Commission assessing the operations of such utilities. The Special Counsel may also issue reports, hold forums with consumers and stakeholders in the community and various industry sectors, make recommendations regarding the necessity of legislation, and will have a dedicated website landing page that will refer complaints from consumers for investigation by the Special Counsel.
Lancman took to Twitter on Friday to express his gratitude of the new role.
“The governor gets things done. I like that. It’s what New Yorkers expect, and deserve. I start Wednesday,” wrote Lancman. “I’m grateful to @NYGovCuomo for this opportunity. I’m grateful to my constituents for their trust & I look forward to serving their interests in this new way. And I’m proud of the work I’ve done @NYCCouncil building a fairer, more accountable justice system in NYC. Excelsior.”
“The Department of Public Service applauds Governor Cuomo for selecting such an outstanding public servant as Mr. Lancman to join the agency and to help ensure ratepayers’ interests are protected,” said Department of Public Service CEO John B. Rhodes. “Mr. Lancman will be an invaluable asset in our efforts to oversee utilities in New York State.”
Lancman currently chairs the New York City Council Committee on the Justice System, overseeing much of the city’s civil and criminal justice system, including the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, the boroughs’ five district attorneys, city-funded public defenders and civil legal services providers, and the courts.