Updates from the Committee on Energy

Central Hudson Rate Proposal Under Funds Program for Low-Income Households
Cahill urges Public Service Commission to reject agreement due to factual inaccuracies
May 1, 2010

Albany – Pointing to inaccurate data used to support funding calculations for a program to aid low income ratepayers, Assembly Energy Committee Chair Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess) wrote a letter to the Public Service Commission (PSC) urging they reject the pending Joint Proposal for a three year rate hike. According to the Assemblymember, the validity of the agreement reached by the utility, Department of Public Service Staff and others, has been called into question and the public interest would be better served if the rate plan received the full scrutiny of a litigated proceeding.

“The questions surrounding Central Hudson’s ability to sufficiently finance their program to assist vulnerable families are very serious and deeply troubling,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “The proposed rate hike was unaffordable to begin with; now, given this new information, the Public Service Commission should send Central Hudson back to the drawing board to start the process over.”

In the Joint Proposal before the Commission, Central Hudson provided information on the per capita cost of households enrolled in the company’s Enhanced Powerful Opportunities Program (EPOP), leading Department of Public Service Staff and the Consumer Protection Board to believe they would increase the number of participants by 110 per year over the three year rate plan. However, the funding level calculated by Central Hudson was knowingly based on an outdated $1,467 per customer, rather than the more current and reliable figure of $2,588.

Currently, Central Hudson’s EPOP serves roughly 1,000 customers. Under the pending Joint Proposal, the program would have likely grown to 1,330 participants by the expiration of the agreement. In reality, when the more accurate cost per customer is applied, enrollment in the program is projected to decrease significantly to about 600 customers, less than half of the 1,330 targeted enrollees assumed in the Joint Proposal. This revelation has caused the Consumer Protection Board, which had initially remained neutral, to join Assemblymember Cahill in opposing the plan.

“We have reached a point where the adoption of the Joint Proposal cannot be deemed in the public interest,” Assemblymember Cahill said. “The PSC must reject the settlement and require the utility to submit a new plan so that it may be subjected to the full scrutiny only a litigated rate proceeding can provide. Central Hudson customers deserve no less.”