In response to the call by Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger and other elected officials, the NYS Public Service Commission has agreed to add in-person public hearings on Fortis/Central Hudson’s proposed rate hike, and further agreed to the County Executive’s request to make Spanish translation available to ensure equitable participation by Ulster County’s Spanish-speaking community. The County Executive sent a letter to the Commission making the request on September 1 and received a response from the Commission at the end of last week. The County Executive continues to press for one of the in-person hearings to be held in Ulster County.
The letter emphasized that certain areas of Ulster County are underserved in terms of broadband access, making virtual hearings inaccessible for some residents. Additionally, older residents and struggling households, who have been adversely affected by the mismanagement of Fortis/Central Hudson’s billing system, were unlikely to participate in virtual hearings.
In response to County Executive Metzger’s request, the Public Service Commission agreed to schedule in-person public statement hearings in addition to the two virtual hearings already planned for September 12 and September 20. The Commission also agreed to provide Spanish language translation at the in-person meetings for the first time.
“I want to thank the Public Service Commission for responding to our call for in-person hearings and Spanish language translation, and reiterate my request for one of the hearings to be held in Ulster County,” Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger stated. “Our residents have been through a lot, and they deserve the opportunity to share their experiences and concerns about Fortis/Central-Hudson and the proposed rate increase directly with the Commission, whether their primary language is English or Spanish. Ensuring a voice for all of our residents is a priority of my administration.”
James Denn, Director of Public Affairs at the Public Service Commission, expressed his appreciation for County Executive Metzger’s advocacy and assured that all comments submitted would be carefully considered in the ongoing proceedings.
Residents of Ulster County can find more information about the case on the PSC website at www.dps.ny.gov by searching for case numbers 23-E-0418 and 23-G-0419.
On August 29, Central Hudson presented details of its new proposed rate increase. If approved, the rate hike would increase Central Hudson’s revenues by more than $180 million. For customers, this means a typical residential customer’s bill would go up by an estimated $30 a month for electricity, plus another $30 a month for gas customers. Documents filed by the company in the rate case also show that, from February 2020 through June 30, 2023, its residential customers’ arrears greater than 60 days grew by 1,044%, to $96 million, while non-residential arrears grew by 1.971%, to $29 million.