Problems Plague New Central Hudson System

Customers surprised by large, delayed bills

Kimberly Sauer says she was home for less than half of last month and her smart thermometer showed that the heat operated for about 13 minutes each day during what was an unusually warm December. 

So, the Beacon resident was shocked when Central Hudson billed her for 10 times the amount of gas she uses on average throughout the year. 

“December is, allegedly, an actual reading, but I don’t see how that is possible,” said Sauer on Monday (Jan. 3). 

She is not the only Central Hudson customer in disbelief. 

The company has been facing a barrage of emails and phone calls over the last two months from its customers, who number 5,197 in Philipstown and 6,499 in Beacon. Their focus is a range of billing issues — from off-the-chart and smaller-than-usual charges for electric and gas usage to having months go by without receiving a bill.  

Joe Jenkins, a representative for the utility, said glitches arose when the utility recently replaced a 1980s-era computer system with new software to adapt to a “cleaner energy grid” in which more customers are using energy generated from solar panels and third-party suppliers. The update took place around September. 

About 4,000 of Central Hudson’s approximately 308,000 customers have been affected, he said. To handle their complaints, the company has “more than doubled” its customer service staff and expanded hours of operation to reduce the amount of time people spend on hold, said Jenkins. It also is using mail, email, social media and automated phone calls to communicate with customers, he said. 

“Our team of IT [information technology] professionals and our software consultants are working every day to identify and implement system fixes,” said Jenkins on Tuesday (Jan. 4). “We expect to have the majority of these fixes in place early this year.” 

When that happens, Craig Wolf, who owns both a rental property and a residence in Beacon, is expecting a big bill. 

In November, he realized that Central Hudson had not sent a bill for the rental property since July, and began worrying that he simply had not seen the utility’s statements. Bills were sent to his primary residence, but for much less than the normal $200 to $300 in charges. November’s bill totaled $18.77, said Wolf, who is bracing for a large bill at some point. 

“We’re certainly going to get a [corrected] bill someday, and it’s going to be a whopper,” he said.

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6 thoughts on “Problems Plague New Central Hudson System

  1. Readers and customers should be aware that they can report anything from irregular billing, infrequent “actual” meter readings, or any other utility malpractice to the Public Service Commission (PSC) by clicking here.

    The PSC recently stepped in to decline Central Hudson an 8 percent rate hike, and is responsible for regulating utilities across the state.

  2. The situation was aggravating but Central Hudson did make an effort to correct it for us and reached out through social media and also called us. It was finally corrected. I paid the amount I usually owe every month over the phone so I wouldn’t be behind. Central Hudson usually provides top-notch customer service, so this seems like a bump in the road for them. [via Facebook]

  3. I owed more than $700 after not receiving a bill for months. They changed my account number in September; discovered this today. [via Facebook]

  4. Compare your meter reading to the stated reading on your next bill. In Central Hudson’s efforts to clean up the mess created by this system update/transfer, it adjusted the meter reading, producing an erroneous number on the invoice. Per customer service, Central Hudson is working to clean up this further-compounding error. [via Facebook]

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