Jacobson and Hinchey Pass Legislation Curbing Late Billing

Assemblymember Jonathan Jacobson (D-104) and State Senator Michelle Hinchey (D- 41) have passed legislation aimed at curbing chronic late billing by Central Hudson and other utility companies. Bill A.4055A/ S04234-A prohibits utilities from back-billing beyond a two-month period and also requires utilities to include a two-year record of usage with every bill.

Assemblymember Jacobson said, “Utilities have a simple responsibility to bill timely and in a transparent manner. This bill will ensure that both will happen.

“Since December 2021, thousands of Central Hudson customers, including many of my constituents, have been victims of the utility’s failed billing software rollout. Among the many issues customers have been facing, late billing is one of the worst. Customers went months without receiving a bill only to receive a massive catch-up bill that wreaked havoc with their household finances.

Michelle Hinchey
Michelle Hinchey

“For example, once this bill is signed into law by the Governor, a utility that fails to bill a customer for six months will now only be permitted to charge that customer for the most recent two-month period,” Jacobson continued. “This bill gives Central Hudson and other utilities an enormous financial incentive to issue timely bills, ensuring that customers are no longer punished for the failures of their utility company.

“In addition, by requiring that each billing statement contains the usage history at that address for the previous two years, customers can more easily determine whether or not they have been correctly billed.

“I am enormously proud of this legislation and grateful to Senator Michelle Hinchey, my legislative colleagues who supported the bill, and the Public Utilities Law Project for helping pass this bill to protect utility consumers,” Jacobson concluded.

Senator Michelle Hinchey said, “Your utility bill should be accurate and on time, and we know, based on the lived experiences of people across the Hudson Valley, that these core responsibilities are not being honored by certain utility companies serving our communities. I’m incredibly proud that our bill to increase transparency in utility billing and provide people with a reliable history of past usage to help determine whether they are being billed accurately has now passed both houses of the legislature. This bill has the potential to put more money back into the pockets of New Yorkers while incentivizing utilities to send customer bills in a timely and transparent way, and we look forward to the Governor swiftly signing it into law.”

Laurie Wheelock, Executive Director and Counsel of the Public Utility Law Project, said, “Customers need to trust that the bills they receive are accurate, but this is not always possible when a utility relies on back-billing for extended periods of time. Billing irregularities often result in confusion and unexpected spikes in energy costs that cause financial stress, especially among low- and fixed-income households. This legislation puts necessary checks on a utility’s ability to back-bill and requires them to provide clear and comprehensive billing records to customers. We applaud Assemblymember Jacobson and Senator Hinchey for their leadership on this tangible step forward for consumer empowerment and fairness in the utility sector.”

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