ALBANY – Governor Kathy Hochul has signed a sweeping utility reform bill (A.4055/S.4234) sponsored by Assemblymember Jonathan Jacobson (D-104) and State Senator Michelle Hinchey (D-41) aimed at curbing chronic late billing by Central Hudson and other utility companies.
The new law prohibits utilities from backbilling for services for which the bill is three months late and requires the disclosure of prior billing data. These reforms protect both residential and small business customers.
“For more than two years, customers of Central Hudson have been plagued with non-billing, late billing, inaccurate bills and excessive use of estimated billing. This new law is an important step in alleviating this intolerable situation,” said Jacobson.
“Utilities have a simple responsibility to bill timely and in a transparent manner. This law will ensure that both will happen. Utilities now have an enormous financial incentive to issue timely bills,” added Jacobson.
State Senator Hinchey said, “Extreme backbilling creates unexpected financial burdens for families and small businesses, making budgeting nearly impossible since people can’t predict the arrival or amount of their next bill. Our legislation finally cracks down on this predatory billing practice and, for the first time, provides better protections for residents and small businesses alike by preventing utility companies from charging customers if they send a bill more than three months late.
“One of the biggest problems we’ve heard from constituents is the lack of information about previous bills, preventing people from comparing usage year over year or month over month. For the first time, we’re also requiring utility companies to include past charge history with each bill, increasing transparency for customers to help confirm accurate billing. In the Hudson Valley, the need for this bill has been clear, and we’re proud it’s now law, providing a real accountability mechanism to put more money back into the pockets of New Yorkers when utilities fall short of their core responsibilities,” added Hinchey.
Specifically, the law includes three major reforms. First, it prohibits a utility from backbilling if a bill is issued more than three months late. This gives utilities a financial incentive to get their bills out on time.
Second, the law requires utilities to include the previous 13 months of usage charges at the customer’s address with each bill they issue. This will include the usage of different customers at that address during the period. This provision allows customers to compare their bill with a similar period to determine if they are being overcharged.
Third, for the first time the law ensures that small businesses are treated the same as residential customers with respect to late billing and disclosure of prior usage.