The state has opened an investigation into Central Hudson’s billing practices.
You can help the investigation by submitting a public comment about how Central Hudson’s billing practices have impacted you or someone you know at https://on.ny.gov/3iOP2wk or by calling 845-443-8888
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Below is a summary of your legal rights as an energy utilities customer. These rights come from the Home Energy Fair Practices Act (HEFPA), a law passed in New York State in 1981. For a fuller summary of your rights, go to http://www.askpsc.com/askpsc/, scroll down the page, and click “Residential Consumer Protections”
How can I pay off my debt?
You have the right to work out a deferred payment agreement to pay off your debt over a period of time for as little as $10 a month. Central Hudson must negotiate in good faith to reach an agreement that is affordable for you. However, Central Hudson may refuse a deferred payment agreement if it believes you have the ability to pay in full.
When are shut offs not allowed?
Written Notice and Waiting Period
Central Hudson must send a final termination notice before a shut-off. It must state the reasons for the intended shut-off, the earliest date on which a shutoff might occur, the address and phone number of the utility, and consumer rights under HEFPA.
The notice must be sent 20 days or more after the payment was due.
The utility must allow 15 days for you to pay or establish a deferred payment agreement.
There are more protections for situations in which a landlord fails to pay.
Friday-Saturday or Holidays: Central Hudson can only do shut offs between 8AM and 4PM Monday-Thursday. They cannot do shut-offs on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, the day before a holiday, on a holiday, any day their office or the Public Service Commission (PSC) office is closed, or during a two-week period in the Christmas-New Year’s season.
Medical Emergencies: If someone living in the home has a medical condition that could be made worse by a shut off, a doctor can write a note to prevent a shut off for at least 30 days.
Life Support Equipment: If someone living in the home needs electricity to operate Life Support Equipment, they are not allowed to shut off your electricity.
If there is a pending complaint: If you have a pending complaint with the Public Service Commission (PSC) or are in the process of trying to work out an agreement with Central Hudson, a shut off cannot happen. Special protections apply when health and safety may be threatened by lack of service.
They apply to all customers during the cold weather period between November 1 and April 15 and at all times to customers with medical emergencies or who are elderly, blind or disabled.
Your power cannot be shut off if it would create a health and safety risk for someone in the home
At least three days before the scheduled shut off, Central Hudson must attempt to contact you or another adult in your home by telephone during normal business hours. If unsuccessful, they must attempt to reach you by telephone during non-business hours (6 p.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays). If unsuccessful reaching you by telephone, your provider must attempt to contact you in person.
On the day of service shut off, Central Hudson must attempt to contact, in person, you or an adult resident in your home.
PROTECTING YOUR RIGHTS
What if Central Hudson is violating my rights or treating me unfairly?
File a complaint with the Public Service Commission (PSC). The PSC is the agency that regulates and oversees Central Hudson and other utility providers in New York. You can file a complaint with the PSC if Central Hudson is treating you unfairly or to temporarily prevent a shut off.
How do I file a complaint with the Public Service Commission?
If your power is shutoff or a shutoff is scheduled, immediately call the PSC shutoff hotline at 1-800-342-3355
In all other situations, you must follow three steps:
First, complain to Central Hudson by calling (845) 452-2700 or, if outside the area code, call 800-527-2714. If this does not resolve the problem, then
Second, complain to the PSC by calling 1-800-342-3377 (make sure you ask for the case number assigned to your complaint), going online to http://www3.dps.ny.gov/ocs/itgate.nsf/webDPS_Complaint?OpenForm, faxing a complaint to 518-472-8502, or mailing a complaint to Public Service Commission, Empire State Plaza, Agency Building 3, Albany, NY 12223
Third, if the PSC does not rule in your favor, request a hearing by phone or by writing within 15 days of the PSC’s decision.
What if I have a question about my rights or the PSC isn’t helping me?
The lawyers at the New York Public Utility Law Project can help advise you. Contact them at (877) 669-2572 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)
Good Neighbor Fund
HEAP is a federally funded program that helps people with low incomes pay for home heating
If, through an account in your own name, you get your electricity and either electric or gas heating through Central Hudson, you can receive an automatic discount for twelve months. Your application must instruct that your HEAP grant be credited directly to your own Central Hudson account number.
Emergency HEAP is another federally funded benefit you can receive on top of regular HEAP if your heat is shut off, scheduled to be shut off, or if you’re out or almost out of fuel.
How do I sign up for Emergency HEAP?
Visit the Department of Social Services to fill out a regular HEAP application, but add that you need Emergency HEAP. If DSS isn’t open and it’s an emergency, call Community Action at 845-437-0050
EmPower New York
EmPower New York is a program that provides free energy efficient appliances and home weatherization to low-income applicants. If you qualify for HEAP, you also qualify for Empower New York.