State to monitor Central Hudson’s monthly billing

Posted 8/1/23

The New York State Department of Public Service (DPS) has announced that Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation has agreed to pay for an independent monitor to verify system and operational …

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State to monitor Central Hudson’s monthly billing


The New York State Department of Public Service (DPS) has announced that Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation has agreed to pay for an independent monitor to verify system and operational improvements to correct billing system errors, and to accelerate its plans to perform monthly meter reading for its customers. The independent monitor will review the capability and functionality of the company’s customer information and billing system; review the integration of monthly meter reading into the system, along with a timeline to complete the work; and evaluate whether the company’s remedial actions taken to date have effectively resolved the problems identified. The interim agreement to install the independent monitor at shareholder expense does not resolve the Public Service Commission’s (Commission) ongoing investigation into past billing system failures by the company.

“Customers rightly expect to receive timely and accurate bills for their utility services,” said DPS CEO Rory M. Christian. “Unfortunately, our investigation and audit found that Central Hudson wasn’t meeting this basic expectation. There is evidence, however, that the company has corrected many of the problems that led to the billing system errors, and our independent monitor will verify that these corrective actions are working and will be sustained. Furthermore, the company’s commitment to accelerate implementation of monthly meter reads for customers is expected to reduce the number of customer disputes associated with inaccurate estimated bills.”

Throughout the investigation, DPS pressed Central Hudson to prioritize fixing and improving their billing system so that customers receive accurate and timely bills. The corrective actions appear to be working. For example, a sampling of DPS complaints received between November 2022 and January 2023 showed that close to 25 percent of the complaints were due to Central Hudson errors. A subsequent sampling of complaints received between February 2023 and April 2023 indicated that less than 1 percent were due to Central Hudson errors.

The DPS investigation report issued in December 2022 showed some customers went several months without a meter reading, leading to significant bill increases when the bills were trued up to actual usage. In February 2023, a Commission-directed audit recommended that Central Hudson move to monthly meter reading to better align customer energy usage to fluctuating energy commodity prices, and the Commission required the company to file an implementation plan to implement the audit recommendations. DPS is the staff arm of the Commission.

“I applaud NYS DPS for implementing an independent monitor to review operational improvements by Central Hudson in its billing system and verify that customer billing issues have been resolved,” said Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger. “Our calls for an accountable process that does not rely on the utility’s internal reporting have been heard, and importantly, the costs of the independent monitor will be borne by shareholders, not ratepayers, which is 100% the right thing to do.”

As part of the agreement, Central Hudson plans to be able to read a vast majority of customer meters every month by December 2024, an acceleration of more than 13 months compared to the company’s initial plans (to reach this goal by February 2026). Under today’s agreement, the company seeks to begin pilot programs for monthly meter reading in late 2023 and early 2024.

“I am also pleased to see that our call for expediting an end to estimated customer billing has been heard, though I would like to see monthly meter readings occur on a quicker timetable,” Metzger said. “Installing an independent monitor and ending the practice of estimated billing are critical steps to fix a debacle that has plagued customers for close to two years, and I’m thrilled to see this progress being made.”

As part of the overall effort that’s been done regarding Central Hudson billing issues, DPS acknowledges work by Congressman Pat Ryan and Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger, which included holding workshops and meetings with consumers and Central Hudson to address billing issues.