In Unusual Move, PSC to Hold Extra Public Hearings This Week on Proposed Central Hudson Acquisition

CONTACT: Susan Gillespie, 845-658-9820
Jennifer Metzger, 845-489-0830

Press Conference with Political and Labor Leaders at 6 pm

Rosendale, NY. - In an unusual move by the N.Y. Public Service Commission (PSC), additional public hearings have been scheduled on the proposed acquisition of Central Hudson by Fortis, Inc., a multinational holding company based in Canada. The first hearing will take place in Poughkeepsie in the Municipal Building on Wednesday, April 17, and the second will be held in Kingston at Kingston City Hall on Thursday, April 18—both at 7 pm. Members of the public are invited to make statements for the record concerning this case, and need not sign up in advance to make comments.

Citizens for Local Power, a grass-roots group formed in opposition to the proposed acquisition, has scheduled press conferences at 6 pm before each public hearing. Expected to attend the Poughkeepsie press conference are N.Y. State Assembly Member Didi Barrett; Dutchess County Legislators Debra Blalock, Barbara Jeter-Jackson, Rich Perkins, Joel Tyner, and Steve White; State Senator Terry Gipson, and public utilities attorney Daniel Duthie, advisor to Citizens for Local Power. Speakers at the Kingston press conference include U.C. Legislator Hector Rodriguez, Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation (AFL-CIO) President Paul Ellis Graham, and local government representatives. Both press conferences will be held at the address of the hearings.

The PSC decision to schedule two additional hearings, and to extend the public comment period from March 22 to May 1, was a response to numerous requests by political leaders and governing bodies expressing concerns about the proposed acquisition and the need for wider public input. Opposition to the proposed acquisition has snow-balled since the first public hearings in late February. Before that time, much of the public and many public officials knew very little about the details of the deal or about Fortis, Inc., which, as Citizens for Local Power have pointed out, has a poor environmental track record and a strong interest in promoting continued reliance on fossil fuels in New York State, conflicting with energy goals set forth by Governor Cuomo and President Obama. In the last month, resolutions opposing the proposed acquisition by Fortis have been adopted by the Towns of Rosendale, New Paltz, Woodstock, and Olive, as well as by the Ulster County Legislature, and more resolutions are in process in other towns. In addition, 13 Dutchess County legislators across the political spectrum have submitted comments to the PSC calling for a rejection of the acquisition proposal. Opposition has also come from State Senators Cecilia Tkaczyk and Terry Gipson, IBEW Local 320 and the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation, among others.

Taking action to the next step, opponents of the proposed Fortis acquisition are organizing a municipal consortium of villages, towns, cities, counties to join together as a party to this case and to ensure that their collective interests are well represented in PSC decision-making. The consortium will request an Evidentiary Hearing as well as a Recommended Decision to obtain a rigorous review of case materials and an adequate public accounting of the reasoning behind any decision of the PSC on the proposed acquisition. Labor unions and area non-profit organizations will also have the opportunity to contribute to the consortium, which is represented by Daniel Duthie, an experienced public utilities attorney. Just last week, the Town of Rosendale started the ball rolling, becoming the first town to adopt a resolution joining the consortium.

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.

The Poughkeepsie public hearing will be held in Common Council Chambers, Municipal Building (3rd Floor), 62 Civic Center Plaza (free parking available in parking garage); the Kingston hearing will be held in Council Chambers, Kingston City Hall, 420 Broadway.