By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
The utility company Central Hudson is looking for a 16% increase in the residential electricity rate and a 19% increase for natural gas.
The company’s rate plan proposal is undergoing a review process with the New York State Public Service Commission and if approved, would go into effect July 1, 2024.
For the average customer, the rate difference would amount to about a $1 per day increase for electricity and for natural gas, according to the company, or about $30 a month for each service.
The new rate plan is needed to pay for upgrading outdated equipment and infrastructure, according to the company.
“We believe that this proposed rate plan is essential to address our infrastructure needs, recover from the impacts of COVID-19, and ensure that we can respond effectively to extreme weather events, which are occurring more frequently,” said Joe Hally, vice president of Regulatory Affairs for Central Hudson.
“By making these necessary investments, we will not only maintain the safety and reliability of our utility operations but also comply with New York state’s nation-leading clean energy laws, protect the environment, and improve customer service through the adoption of new technologies,” Hally continued.
The company contends that 20% of its existing electric infrastructure is beyond its “expected useful life,” and that the increase would enable Central Hudson to allocate more personnel, resources and equipment to deal with extreme weather events that lead to power outages.
“As climate change continues to manifest in the form of severe storms and extreme weather events, Central Hudson recognizes the importance of being well prepared and responsive,” Hally said. “The proposed rate plan will enable us to invest in advanced technologies and equipment necessary to enhance our storm preparation and response capabilities.”
State Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-41, said in a statement she opposes the rate hike, particularly as Central Hudson is under investigation for its billing practices and a new billing system implemented in 2021 that is accused of issuing inaccurate customer bills. Thousands of complaints were lodged with the Public Service Commission, which launched an investigation in April 2022.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Central Hudson should not receive a rate increase, and most certainly not at a time when the company is being investigated by the PSC for improper billing practices while continuing to issue inaccurate bills to Hudson Valley residents,” Hinchey said. “Until the company has straightened out its billing system, a rate increase should not be an option on the table, and I’ll continue fighting to protect our residents’ pockets from this unacceptable rate proposal.”
The company’s current rate plan expires in June 2024.
Central Hudson’s proposed rate plan is currently under review with the Public Service Commission. The review process will include the opportunity for public comment, which has not yet been scheduled.