PSC Public Hearings on Central Hudson Rate Plan Proposal in Kingston and Newburgh

Lindsay Hutton, Coordinator, Citizens for Local Power

Highest Fixed Electricity Charges in the State Proposed to be Raised Even Higher

Ulster County, NY….The NYS Public Service Commission will be holding a combination of public information sessions and hearings over the next three weeks to get public input on Central Hudson’s recently filed rate plan for 2017-2018, which cannot take effect until approved by the Commission.  A rate plan sets the level of revenue that a utility can collect from customers through electricity and gas rates to run its business and also earn a PSC-approved return.

Citizens for Local Power (CLP), an organization based in Ulster County that is focused on energy and utility issues affecting Mid-Hudson communities, has strong concerns about Central Hudson’s rate proposals and some of the spending items outlined in the company’s more than 30 separate filings with the Commission on the proposed plan.

In particular, CLP observes that Central Hudson already has the highest fixed residential charge in New York at $24 per month and the company is now seeking to increase it even further, to $25.  “These charges deprive customers of their ability to control their bills by using less energy and are inequitable, charging everyone the same, regardless of use,” said Jen Metzger, Director of Citizens for Local Power. “Central Hudson should reduce these charges, not raise them.”  

Metzger also notes that the company has proposed a new “service size charge” that would impose an additional monthly cost of $1-4 dollars for about 40% of residents, depending on their electricity consumption level.  The company has called this a demand-related charge for usage at times when electricity demand is highest, but as Metzger points out, the charge bears no relationship to an individual customer’s actual peak use. Moreover, the utility is not equipping customers with the information they need to shift usage to non-peak hours.

CLP also has concerns about a number of proposed expenses in the rate plan that customers are being asked to pay for, including an increase in the regulated rate of return, or profit, from 9% to 9.5%, on top of new performance-based incentives for which shareholders would earn additional profit. CLP also opposes the proposed ratepayer-subsidized Fortis stock options for Central Hudson executives and employees. The proposed plan would contribute 10% of an employee’s costs of purchasing Fortis shares at an estimated cost to ratepayers of $300,000 in the coming year. (The Canadian-based holding company, Fortis Inc., acquired Central Hudson in 2013.) CLP suggests that the contribution should come out of the pockets of Fortis shareholders, not Hudson Central ratepayers.

CLP has prepared a brief backgrounder with the highlights of the rate plan, attached, and urges the press to attend the upcoming public hearings on this proposed rate plan:

Kingston City Hall (Council Chambers)
Tuesday, October 10
Information sessions: 2 pm & 6 pm
Public hearings: 3 pm & 7 pm
420 Broadway, Kingston, NY 12401

Newburgh Town Hall
Monday, Oct. 16
Information sessions: 2 pm & 6 pm
Public hearings: 3 pm & 7 pm
1496 Route 300
Newburgh, NY 12250