Wednesday, October 4, 2017

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Public hearing held on proposed Central Hudson rate hike

POUGHKEEPSIE – Hudson Valley residents Tuesday night voiced their concerns about Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation’s proposed natural gas and electric delivery rate increases.

The state Public Service Commission held the first of its hearings at the Poughkeepsie Town Hall.

The increased rates are designed to ultimately prepare the region for a brighter future with advancements in the technology utilized to bring energy and natural gas to residents, according to Central Hudson’s President and CEO Michael Mosher.

“We’re proposing to invest in our equipment, update aging infrastructure and deploy technology to modernize the systems that deliver essential electricity and natural gas to our customers,” he stated in a news release. “We’re committed to an event better future for our region. The plan that we have proposed will enable us to attain that goal at a fair and reasonable cost increase of about 14 and 18 cents per day for the typical residential electric and gas customer, respectively, while utilizing available offsets.”

The customers who attended the T

town Hall; however, believed that this bright future comes at a high cost. They voiced opposition to the proposed rate hikes to PSC officials.

Dutchess County Legislator Joel Tyner did not hold back when it came to his views on how both the New York State Public Service Commission and Central Hudson have handled this issue.

“For years and decades, the New York State Public Service Commission has not truly served the public,” Tyner said, “[and] with all due respect, I’ve been watching closely for well over a decade, and it seems as though every time Central Hudson wants a rate hike, they get it.”

Tyner said it is “beyond obscene and atrocious” for Central Hudson to want more in profit.

Other speakers included Jonathan Bix, executive director of the grassroots organization Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson, which seeks to keep homeowners in the Hudson Valley regardless of economic and social discrimination.

“Working class people, particularly working class people of color, already cannot afford Central Hudson’s rates,” he said. “Affordability is a matter of life or death. The rate hike will force many people to choose between food and utilities, healthcare and utilities.”

Donna West, a Central Hudson customer, shared her personal experience with high utility costs.

“I’m forced to leave my home with my children and go somewhere else until I can save up the money to pay Central Hudson,” West said. “I’m asthmatic and I need my machine, but it’s either ‘you pay the bill or you’re dead, we don’t care’”

If the proposal is approved, there will be a 3.7 percent rate increase for the total average residential electricity bills to nearly $4.19 per month. Meanwhile, the rate for the average total residential natural gas heating bills will increase by 4.7 percent to $5.54 per month. The plan would go into effect during the July 2018-June 2019 term.

Two other PSC sessions will be held - at Kingston City Hall and Newburgh Town Hall.


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