Contreras and Hinchey send joint letter to the Public Service Commission requesting Central Hudson shareholders be held financially responsible for damaging business practices over the past two years
KINGSTON, N.Y. - Acting Ulster County Executive Johanna Contreras and New York State Senator Michelle Hinchey today announced that they have sent a joint letter to the New York State Department of Public Service (DPS), calling on the agency to hold Fortis / Central Hudson shareholders financially responsible for the company’s damaging business practices over the past two years. Specifically, the officials call for Phase II relief for customers not previously assisted in Phase I to be funded fully by shareholders. In their letter, the officials push for 100% shareholder contribution to Phase II relief, stating that Fortis/Central Hudson shareholders’ contribution of $200,000 to Phase I was woefully inadequate. Ratepayers will be responsible for covering the remaining $3 million-plus of Phase I relief through a surcharge.
“Phase II relief is much-needed but cannot continue this same inequitable cost structure — our constituents and ratepayers deserve better,” Acting County Executive Contreras said. “We continue to hear from customers who are desperately struggling under the burden of these bills. We appreciate the focus and priority that DPS has placed on this investigation and the protection of consumers.”
Senator Michelle Hinchey said, “Central Hudson customers need financial relief, and it is the Company’s responsibility to pay their fair share. We will not stand for Hudson Valley families taking another hit to their wallets at the hands of Central Hudson, and we will continue to fight for the relief that all ratepayers deserve.”
On August 1st, Central Hudson added a surcharge of 0.5 percent onto customer bills to help fund a year-long arrears reduction program to assist low-income households with electric and gas charges accumulated during the pandemic. Shareholders have only contributed about $200,000 toward the debt relief program, falling short of the $3-million-plus to be recovered, which the Company is relying on ratepayers to fund.
At the state level, Senator Hinchey has introduced legislation (S7579A) to ban estimated billing in most circumstances and bring greater transparency and reliability to the practices of utility companies serving New Yorkers. Locally, former Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan used his legal authority to initiate an investigation into Central Hudson's billing practices in a March 3rd letter. Both officials hosted a public hearing on May 3rd, which drew over 100 attendees and more than 45 public comments.
Central Hudson customers who have been impacted by the Company’s billing system errors may submit public comment through the online form at NYSDPS to aid the Department of Public Service’s continued investigation.