Cahill Seeks to Pull Plug on Central Hudson Rate Hike

Assemblymember calls on Consumer Protection Board to challenge PSC ruling
August 10, 2006

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D Ulster, Dutchess) has called on the New York State Consumer Protection Board to challenge the recently approved Central Hudson rate hike. "In the face of the largest rate increase for a major energy utility in more than a decade it is imperative that, as the voice of the ratepayers in the Hudson Valley, the Consumer Protection Board exhaust all available options to preserve the affordability and reliability of this critical public commodity," said Assemblymember Cahill.

Specifically, Mr. Cahill has asked the Consumer Protection Board to file a motion for a rehearing before the Public Service Commission as allowed by the Public Service Law. According to the law, interested parties have thirty days to apply for a rehearing after an order has been made by the Commission. In his letter, the Assemblymember raised serious concerns about the Public Service Commission's failure to require Central Hudson to enhance the reliability, safety and effectiveness of the system. The letter also points to the lack of provisions within the proposal for meaningful consumer protections to shield customers from the impact of the requested rate increases.

Mr. Cahill said he was particularly troubled by Central Hudson's refusal to make a significant commitment towards upgrading the transmission system. As a public utility, Central Hudson has an obligation to maintain and improve the gas and electric delivery system. The Public Service Commission has missed an important opportunity to ensure Central Hudson lives up to the highest standards of reliability, said Assemblymember Cahill, noting that Central Hudson has failed to meet minimum reliability thresholds in three of the past five years. "If they want to make their customers pay more their service, then the company should be required to put that money towards improving the grid."

The Assemblymember also reiterated his concern that that the cost impact on ratepayers is too burdensome and could threaten the health, safety and financial well-being of many families and individuals who simply will not have the resources to meet Central Hudson's demands. Mr. Cahill said, "There have to be protections built in to soften the blow to our Seniors and working families who have already been hammered by skyrocketing energy costs."

"Under Governor Pataki, the Consumer Protection Board has long claimed to be the leader in advocating on behalf of both residential and small business consumers in utility proceedings before the Public Service Commission. It is time they live up to that claim," Assemblymember Cahill concluded.