Central Hudson might reduce estimated billing
Paul Kirby reports for the Daily Freeman that Central Hudson is considering reducing estimated billing, after many complaints from customers, and a current investigation of the company's business practices from the Public Service Commission. “We have heard our customers’ concerns on this issue and are in the preliminary stages of evaluating pathways to potentially reduce the frequency of estimates on customer bills,” the company told the Daily Freeman. “We understand that more recently, billing estimates have become a source of stress and confusion for our customers — especially during this time of heightened energy market volatility.” In 2016, Central Hudson switched from reading meters every other month, to sending out monthly bills with half estimated based on the time of the year and previous consumption. And moving to fewer estimated bills will mean higher charges for customers. “There are significant costs associated with transitioning away from bi-monthly estimates — either via technology or additional manpower — and we want to ensure we’re meeting our customers’ needs in a financially responsible way. We are in the early stages of this process, so we don’t yet have a time frame for when any changes would take place," a Central Hudson official wrote to the newspaper. The change from Central Hudson may have come partially from a bill in the state legislature pending from state Sen. Michelle Hinchey, a Democrat from Saugerties, that would require the utility to stop the estimated billing practice unless meters can’t be read. “My bill to ban estimated billing passed the Senate unanimously last year but did not make it through the Assembly, and it is among my top priorities to get it passed through the full legislature this session to protect peoples’ wallets and bring transparency to the utility industry as a whole in New York,” Hinchey said in a statement. “What we know, based on the lived experiences of thousands of constituents here in the Hudson Valley, is that utility companies are using proprietary estimation formulas that are clearly not based on previous usage, making it impossible for everyday New Yorkers to afford their bills.” Read more about this story in the Daily Freeman.