The Public Service Commission has announced it will be conducting an investigation into Central Hudson based on our legal petition!
We applaud the Public Service Commission’s decision to launch an investigation into Central Hudson’s collection practices. We believe it’s time to shine a light on Central Hudson’s misconduct.
The Public Service Commission wrote a letter to Central Hudson on December 29th, announcing it will be investigating the issues brought to light by us. These include unlawful debt transferring, failure to negotiate payment agreements in good faith, failure to follow shutoff procedures, and racial discrimination in collection practices.
The letter emphasized that “the investigation is expected to include, without limitation, a review of pertinent Central Hudson documentation.” To ensure that this “investigation can proceed unimpeded,” the letter ordered Central Hudson to make available all relevant records. The full text of the letter is below.
This decision comes after many months of research into consumer violations and racial inequality, our members speaking up for their rights, a courageous letter sent to us by a whistleblower at Central Hudson, and a productive meeting with the Public Service Commission’s staff. We submitted a legal petition for an investigation on December 21st.
This type of investigation is rare. That it is taking place is a reflection of the courage and efforts of our members, and the seriousness of the issues raised.
Full text of the Public Service Commission’s letter to Central Hudson:
Paul A. Colbert
Associate General Counsel – Regulatory Affairs
Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation
Re: Case 15-M-0756, Complaint of Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson Against Central Hudson Gas & Electric
Corporation Concerning Collection Practices
Dear Mr. Colbert,
As you are undoubtedly aware, on December 21, 2015, the organization Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson filed a petition seeking an investigation of Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation’s (Central Hudson) collection practices. The petition alleges the following: (a) Central Hudson’s transferring of unlawful debts to parties that are not legally responsible for them, (b) Central Hudson’s lack of consistency in negotiating in good faith on Deferred Payment Agreements (DPAs), (c) Central Hudson’s failure to follow required shut-off procedures, especially in cases of medical conditions substantiated by a doctor’s note, and (d) Racial discrimination in Central Hudson’s collection practices.
The Department and the Commission will be conducting an investigation into the issues raised in the petition. That investigation is expected to include, without limitation, a review of pertinent Central Hudson documentation. In order to assure that this investigation can proceed unimpeded, it is imperative that pertinent documentation pertaining to HEFPA, transfer of debts, DPAs, shut-off procedures and/or collection practices; including but not limited to: all training materials; records of any communications, including emails, paper documents, recordings or electronic records, between employees; records of any communications between employees and members of the public, including emails, paper documents, recordings or electronic records, regarding complaints, inquiries or other contacts with customers or other members of the public, including organizations; and other relevant records remain available for the Department’s review.
By this letter, Central Hudson is on notice that it must take all steps necessary to ensure that it preserves all such documents and/or electronically stored information that Central Hudson, its corporate parents, subsidiaries and/or affiliates have in their possession, custody or control during the pendency of this investigation. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions.
Kimberly A. Harriman
Public Service Commission