Electric and gas hikes lower than proposed
Central Hudson has reached a three-year agreement with the state, Dutchess County and other parties under which residential customers will pay more for electricity and gas, but less than the one-year rate increases first proposed by the utility.
The average customer will pay 33 cents less per month for electricity during the first year of the agreement, which ends June 30, but face increases for the final two years. Gas rates will rise each year, starting with an additional $1.64 per month for the average customer.
Central Hudson says it will use bill credits to blunt the impact of the increases on its customers, which include 121,000 households in Dutchess (including Beacon) and 5,200 in Putnam (including Philipstown).
The utility had proposed a rate hike that would have raised the average residential bill by $7.76 per month, or 6.22 percent for a customer who uses the average of 630 kilowatts per month. The distribution of $20 million in bill credits would have reduced the increase to $3.51 per month, it said.
The utility also wanted to raise gas prices by $9.45 per month on the average bill, or $3.28 per month after $8 million in credits were applied.
The state Public Service Commission, which must vote to accept the plan, is accepting public comments through Sept. 29. In addition to the state and Dutchess County, the agreement was signed by the Public Utility Law Project of New York, the Alliance for a Green Economy and Citizens for Local Power.
How to Comment
Visit dps.ny.gov, enter the case number (20-E-0428, 20-G-0429 or 20-M-0134) in the search field and click Post Comments at the top of the page, or
Email [email protected], or
Write the New York State Public Service Commission, Attn: Michelle Phillips, 3 Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12223-1350.
Charles Freni, Central Hudson’s president and CEO, said in a statement on Aug. 25 that the agreement “seeks to provide immediate relief and modest increases once economic recovery is more fully underway.” Susan Gillespie, board president for Citizens for Local Power, said “it’s really unusual” for a utility to reduce its rate increase requests, “but surely it is the right thing to do right now.”
In other provisions, Central Hudson will expand eligibility for its Energy Affordability Program, which provides discounts to low-income customers; address pandemic-related debts by residential and business customers if the Public Service Commission does not act by Sept. 15 in a separate proceeding looking at the impact of the shutdown; and translate its website into Spanish.
The company also agreed to reduce its gas sales by 2.5 percent from 2019 levels over the next four years by expanding rebates and incentives for the purchase of electric heat pumps, vehicle-charging initiatives and other investments to reduce emissions that contribute to global warming.