Central Hudson Rate Increase Blasted

Assemblymember Jonathan Jacobson (D-104) blasted the Central Hudson rate increase recommended to the Public Service Commission (PSC) of 16.7% for electric and 21.8% for gas as “an unaffordable insult to every Central Hudson customer.”

Central Hudson and the PSC have been in litigation since January over the embattled utility’s petition to increase electric delivery revenue by 27.5% and gas delivery revenue by 33.2%. Two Administrative Law Judges who were assigned to the case made the recommendation to the PSC.

“While this is much less than Central Hudson’s original request, the amount is way too high,” Jacobson said. “The original request was merely a bargaining chip and was never a serious proposal, so this recommendation is not a win for consumers.”

Central Hudson had announced the new rate plan proposal just days after it entered into an agreement with the state to end estimated billing and hire an independent monitor. The current rate expires in June.

“Central Hudson’s request for a rate increase is an insult to its customers, considering the service they’ve received,” said Jacobson, adding, “The recommended increase is well beyond the current inflation rate of about 3.2%. And to make matters worse, this increase is for a year only. We all know that Central Hudson will be asking for more next year.”

Jacobson was among the first legislators to confront the utility company for faulty billing practices that left customers overwhelmed with bills that were often hundreds or even tens of thousands of dollars more than expected.

The PSC is expected to decide on the rate increase later this summer. In the meantime, no public hearings on the issue have been announced yet.

“I’m calling for a new round of public hearings both in person and online before the final decision is made,” Jacobson said. “As I said when I testified last October against this increase: ‘Because of the recent billing fiasco, customers have learned not to trust Central Hudson’s numbers, and neither should the PSC.’”

Governor Hochul recently signed the Assemblymember’s bill (A.4055/S.4234) to end chronic late billing by Central Hudson and other utility companies. Utilities will no longer be able to backbill if a bill is more than three months late. The new law will also require utilities to provide 13 months of prior usage data for the customer’s address with each bill, to help customers determine if they are being overcharged.

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