Home Political Jonathan Jacobson Praises $62-Million Settlement

Jonathan Jacobson Praises $62-Million Settlement

Jonathan Jacobson
Jonathan Jacobson

Assemblymember Jonathan Jacobson (D-104) praised the Public Service Commission (PSC) for its $62.59 settlement with Central Hudson, after years of bad billing practices that left customers frustrated and unable to pay.

The settlement — to be paid for by Central Hudson shareholders, not customers — will fund fixes to the utility’s billing system, improve monthly meter readings, create a $4-million Customer Benefit Fund, and cover the cost to implement changes recommended by an independent monitor assigned to the case. The utility also will not challenge $8.75 million in negative revenue adjustments related to its billing failures.

“I commend the Public Service Commission for holding Central Hudson accountable for its billing practices,” Jacobson said. “The utility must begin monthly meter readings in October or face an additional penalty of $500,000 per month.”

The independent monitor released a report on the disastrous rollout of Central Hudson’s new billing system. Customers began receiving wildly inaccurate bills, late bills, or no bills at all for months. When they couldn’t get help from the utility, constituents began reaching out to Jacobson’s office.

“Utility bills should be timely and not a mystery,” Jacobson said. “This settlement, along with legislation I recently passed, will achieve this basic standard of service that all Central Hudson customers deserve.”

The two bills Jacobson sponsored will prohibit chronic late billing and estimated billing by Central Hudson and other utility companies.

Although PSC’s investigation is closed and the monitor indicated that the billing issues have been resolved, Jacobson said his office will continue to monitor the utility and manage complaints from customers in his district.

The settlement doesn’t address Central Hudson’s application for a rate hike of 27.5% for electric and 33.2% for gas. Administrative Law Judges have recommended rate increases of 16.7% for electric and 21.8% for gas, but Jacobson opposes the increase. He continues to call for public hearings on the rate hike before a decision is made.

“The proposed increase is only for one year. We all know that Central Hudson will be asking for more next year,” Jacobson said, noting that the proposed electric and gas rate increases are more than 5 and 6 times, respectively, the rate of inflation.

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