Ulster, Dutchess County Citizens and Representatives Oppose CH-Fortis Takeover

CONTACT: Susan Gillespie (845-658-9820)
Jennifer Metzger (845-658-8967)
Manna Jo Greene (845-807-1270)
Dawn Meola (845-658-3036)

New Hearings Allow more Public Scrutiny

Rosendale, NY. - Fortis Inc., the Canadian multinational holding company seeking to acquire Central Hudson, is meeting concerted local opposition in the mid-Hudson Valley. In response to resolutions opposing the deal by the towns of Rosendale, New Paltz, and Woodstock, and a further resolution from the Ulster County Legislature, the Public Service Commission (PSC) extended the public comment period to May 1, and scheduled additional public hearings, which will take place on Wednesday, April 17, in Poughkeepsie and Thursday, April 18, in Kingston at 7 pm.

Opposition has come from the Towns of Rosendale, New Paltz, and Woodstock, the Ulster County Legislature, State Senators Cecilia Tkaczyk and Terry Gipson, IBEW 320, and the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation, among others. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer has come out against the acquisition because of its inadequate provisions for dealing with past and future storm damage.

The Ulster County Legislature’s resolution cites the fact that “Fortis is not committed to expanding its Alternative Energy portfolio and has publicly said they will continue to rely on natural gas,” and states that “the public benefits offered by Fortis are only one-time and short-term, and are outweighed by future risks to Hudson Valley residents of achieving an affordable, sustainable, and reliable supply of power.” The resolution calls on the PSC to have a recommended decision, which invites further scrutiny. It passed with a vote of 17-0, with 4 abstentions. The resolutions of the three towns also passed unanimously: Rosendale 4-0, New Paltz 4-0, and Woodstock 5-0.

Public officials including N.Y. State Assembly Member Kevin Cahill and State Senators Terry Gipson and Cecilia Tkaczyk, also expressed opposition to the terms of the proposed acquisition and asked for additional time for public comment and greater transparency.

The 17-member citizens’ group spearheading grass-roots opposition includes Manna Jo Greene (also a Rosendale Town Council member and the Environmental Director of Clearwater) and Jennifer Metzger (also Chair of Rosendale’s Environmental Commission). Group member Susan Gillespie, also a resident of Rosendale, said, “There are a few reasons why people are against the deal as soon as they find out what’s at stake here. They want to see more local control, not a foreign corporation deciding what happens with our energy supply; they understand that the deal will make it harder to make our energy system more sustainable; and they realize that the debt that Fortis is taking on will make their rates go sky high.”

Jennifer Metzger, in comments to the PSC on behalf of the Environmental Commission, drew attention to investor information on Fortis's website in which the corporation states that its future profitability depends on low natural gas prices and “no significant changes in government energy plans and environmental laws that may materially affect the cash flows of the Corporation and its subsidiaries.” Councilwoman Greene believes the Fortis acquisition will result in increased dependence on fossil fuel combustion, which will exacerbate the climate crisis and delay the transition to a Green Energy Economy in the region.

Public Hearing Dates:

Poughkeepsie: Wednesday, April 17, 2013
7:00 p.m.
Common Council Chambers
Municipal Building, 3rd Floor
62 Civic Center Plaza

Kingston: Thursday, April 18, 2013
7:00 p.m.
Council Chambers
Kingston City Hall
420 Broadway

The Central Hudson service area includes 375,000 customers affecting ca. 680,000 residents of Ulster, Dutchess, and Greene Counties, as well as portions of Albany, Columbia, Orange, Putnam, and Sullivan Counties.