‘Flawed System’ Leads to ‘Shocking’ Hudson Valley Heating Bills
A top Hudson Valley official says a flawed system and failure to communicate has led to many residents receiving an eye-opening energy bill.
Last week, Hudson Valley Post reported Central Hudson warned customers their bills are going to increase.
Central Hudson believes bills for natural gas will increase by about 19 percent, electric bills will increase by 46 percent and about 29 percent for combination electric and natural gas bills.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro believes residents are receiving "shocking" utility bills from Central Hudson.
"The shocking utility bills our residents are receiving adds insult to the injury from last year‘s flawed rollout of their new billing system. Central Hudson has an obligation to keep our community informed about the cost of the energy they deliver," Molinaro stated. "Too many families living paycheck to paycheck cannot bear the weight of inflation. Add to that a confusing and shocking utility bill increase and we have a recipe for disaster. Central Hudson must do better. They can do better. It’s time they provide assistance and relief to our residents.”
Molinaro believes a new billing system and failure to communicate is flawed and disturbing.
“Central Hudson‘s roll out of a new billing system and failure to communicate effectively with our residents in anticipation of increased energy costs is flawed and disturbing," he added. "Some of what we’re experiencing can be attributed to bad decisions and bad policy in Albany and Washington, but Central Hudson bears much responsibility here. They knew a rate increase was imminent. They have absolute control over their operations and communications. It is clear based on the countless individuals who have communicated with my office that Central Hudson’s outreach efforts have failed."
Central Hudson said the increase is due to increases in supply prices for both electricity and natural gas as the region navigates a colder than average winter and as global energy factors come into play, prompting an increase in the demand and price for energy. Supply prices are market-based and not marked-up by Central Hudson.
“Locally, this January featured sustained temperatures that were 11 percent colder than average and 16 percent colder than January 2021. This contributed to driving gas usage up more than 13 percent and electric usage up nearly 6 percent over January 2021,” Senior Vice President of Customer Services and Gas Operations at Central Hudson Anthony Campagiorni. “The increased usage, coupled with international and domestic factors, has caused the market price of natural gas and electricity to rise here in our region and around the world. Natural gas has become a global commodity that not only heats our homes but is also heavily relied upon to produce electricity on demand and whenever needed.”
Reasons for the price increase
Contributing to higher prices for electricity and natural gas include:
- Increased domestic demand due to colder weather this year as compared to last year.
- Constrained domestic pipeline capacity which curtails gas supplies.
- Lower electric production by renewable generators in the winter, which shifts power production to generators using natural gas.
- Regionally, an increased reliance on natural gas for power generation following the closure of Indian Point.
- Increased global demand for natural gas, as the United States is now a primary exporter of liquefied natural gas to Europe due to shortages there.
- Increase domestic demand for electricity and natural gas as the economy recovers from closures prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Energy Efficiency and Billing Programs
Low-cost and no-cost efficiency measures homeowners can take to help manage energy costs include:
- Insulating ducts and hot water pipes where they run through uninsulated areas, such as crawl spaces, and repairing leaks in the duct system;
- Adding insulation, particularly in the attic;
- Turning down thermostats (each degree saves up to three percent on energy use);
- Keeping radiators and heating ducts clear of furniture to allow heat to circulate freely; and/or
- Sealing air leaks with weather stripping and caulk, which can save up to 10 percent on the use of heating fuels.