Central Hudson Under Fire After ‘Flawed’ Rollout of Billing System
It should come as no surprise that people have concerns over the cost of gas and electric these days, as inflation and a general increase in the cost of living has impacted everyone. However, there's been a common theme of great concern, and even outrage across the Hudson Valley over the last several months about Central Hudson bills and the new billing system that was rolled out.
Hudson Valley Residents Receiving Astronomical Central Hudson Bills
While Central Hudson warned customers of increases throughout the year, a drastic one hit the area a few months back after a 60 percent increase between August and September.
Central Hudson, in a press release, stated that they 'purchase electricity and gas from third-party suppliers on behalf of customers. These costs are not marked up and Central Hudson does not profit from them, meaning customers pay the same rates as Central Hudson for the energy they use.'
In the meantime, customers were also sharing concerns across social media, neighborhood groups and at town and city meetings about bill discrepancies from month to month and year to year, and lack of meter readings on a regular basis.
Hudson Valley Representatives Help Launch Investigation of Central Hudson Billing Practices
Months ago, several local Hudson Valley representatives worked to request a formal investigation by the New York Public Service Commission of Central Hudson's billing practices. After a lengthy investigation, it was determined that there were several 'apparent violations of the Public Service Law, regulations, and Commission orders. In addition, staff has reason to believe that the company mismanaged the project and that the costs associated with the project may have been imprudent.'
With accurate customer bills at the forefront of the Commission's mind, there is a chance that they may pursue a civil penalty action against Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation for these apparent failures related to the rollout and implementation of the company’s new customer information and billing system.
As it currently stands, Central Hudson has 30 days to prove why they should not face civil penalty action and/or an administrative penalty proceeding for their alleged violations of the Public Service Law, and they have also been ordered to prepare and submit a plan to eliminate their practice of bi-monthly estimates, and what impact this could have on their customers.
Local Officials Weigh In On Central Hudson Findings
Dutchess County Executive Molinaro has been very vocal about the 'flawed' new Central Hudson billing system, and just yesterday stated his desire for greater accountability and transparency after the dining of several violations and the mismanagement of the billing project.
It is my hope and expectation that Central Hudson leadership will expeditiously resolve this matter and work to rebuild the community’s trust, and that of the dedicated and hardworking workers at Central Hudson, in the organization. Customers deserve relief. Our community deserves better. And, New York should be more proactive in protecting rate payers.
Likewise, Senator Michelle Hinchey, one of the forces behind launching the investigation, expressed how proud she was to have kept the pressure on to ensure an accurate investigation of recent Central Hudson practices. She reinforced the importance of her proposed bill to protect customers, and vowed to continue to fight to 'hold the company accountable for their negligent actions.'
In their findings, the PSC found that Central Hudson’s estimated billing practices are in breach of the state’s standards for customer quality and service, and I’m incredibly pleased that my bill to ban estimated billing and require monthly, accurate meter readings has officially been adopted as one of the formal recommendations moving forward.
Links to additional investigation related documents from the New York Department of Public Service can be accessed here.