Central Hudson does not want to be penalized for billing mistakes
Andrea Macko reports for Porcupine Soup that the Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation admits they have issues with their billing procedures but does not believe they should get civil penalties from the state’s Public Service Commission. A report from the Public Service Commission released in December found its “customer information and billing system was riddled with defects at launch (go-live), resulting in overcharges and delayed bills for thousands of customers as well as automatic withdrawals from the bank accounts of many customers for multiple months’ worth of charges.” That report came after thousands of complaints from Central Hudson customers that led to pressure on state and local officials to do something. Paul A. Colbert, associate general counsel of regulatory affairs for Central Hudson, admits in a submission to the Public Service Commission, that the utility made mistakes. He wrote, “These issues resulted in impacts to a portion of Central Hudson’s customers, including delayed and inaccurate invoices, confusion, and anxiety. Central Hudson has been humbled by the identification of these issues and the resulting impact on customer satisfaction.” But he minimized the problem, writing, “Central Hudson asks that the Commission consider that although customers have been unfortunately inconvenienced and justifiably confused by receiving estimated bills, multiple back bills and delayed bills, customers have not been financially harmed.” State senator Michelle Hinchey, a Democrat from Saugerties, was not impressed with the utlity's statement. “Central Hudson’s response is glaringly insufficient for the extensive wrongdoing and economic hardships they’ve caused customers across the Hudson Valley. I stand firmly behind the PSC’s investigation, the findings of their damning report, and urge the Commission to move quickly toward a penalty process that delivers justice in support of ratepayers and a path forward that ensures the full correction of all past billing errors.” Central Hudson has about 309,000 electric customers and 84,000 natural gas customers in the Hudson Valley. Read more about this story in Porcupine Soup.