New York PSC Issues Show Cause Order To Utility Over Alleged Billing Problems, Including Delayed Bills To ESCO Customers, Inaccurate Data
December 15, 2022 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
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The New York State Public Service Commission issued a show cause order to Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation (Central Hudson) and instituted a proceeding to determine whether the Commission should pursue a civil penalty action against Central Hudson for what the PSC alleged were, "apparent failures related to the company’s new customer information and billing system."
Central Hudson has 30 days to demonstrate why the Commission should not commence a civil penalty action and/or an administrative penalty proceeding for what the PSC termed, "Central Hudson's apparent violations of the Public Service Law, regulations, and Commission orders[.]"
Joe Jenkins, Associate Director, Media Relations for Central Hudson, provided the following statement concerning the matter:
"Over the last several months, Central Hudson has fully cooperated with our regulators at the Public Service Commission as they investigated our implementation of a new customer information system. Technical challenges associated with the implementation of this system has caused undue stress and confusion to some of our customers. For that, we are deeply apologetic.
"As part of the regulatory process, Central Hudson is provided the opportunity to respond to the PSC’s findings through an Order to Show Cause. We will continue to be open and transparent with our regulators as we move through this process.
"Central Hudson will continue to dedicate significant resources toward resolving any lingering issues with the billing system and find ways to further improve our customer experience."
--- Statement from Joe Jenkins, Associate Director, Media Relations for Central Hudson
The show cause order noted that, "We note that this Order to
Show Cause does not constitute final factual findings or legal
conclusions by the Commission. Today’s order initiates a
proceeding and provides the Company with an opportunity to
address and respond to the allegations and information."
The utility was also ordered to submit a plan to eliminate bi-monthly estimates and to evaluate potential impacts of such a change on customers.
The alleged billing issues allegedly result from implementation of a new billing system by the utility
The PSC alleged that a new billing system implemented by Central Hudson, "was incapable of handling CDG and Net-Metering scenarios and its inability to do so was the cause of
most of the problems that arose after system launch."
"Central Hudson’s inability to properly address system
problems also resulted in negative impacts on community solar
and retail energy projects. Between go-live and April 2022,
over 14,000 Central Hudson CDG customers received a late bill,
some delayed over six months. Defects in the billing system may
have also hampered Central Hudson’s ability to process energy
service company (ESCO) data in a timely fashion," the PSC alleged
A Department of Public Service (DPS) Staff report alleged, "The delays primarily revolved around CDG, net-metered, and Retail Access customers."
Citing a Central Hudson interrogatory response, DPS Staff alleged, "Certain Retail Access
Customers experienced delays resulting from issues within the customer data
including misalignment of dates and status pertaining to
enrollment/drops/switches which are used for pricing and misalignment of
tax rates applied to consolidated billed customers where the ESCO has
provided an override rate to use."
The PSC alleged, "over 8,500 Central Hudson customers were overcharged for
service in an unjust and unreasonable manner including some
customers having money automatically withdrawn from their bank
accounts at one time or in quick succession during a short time
span for multiple months’ worth of charges. Additionally,
Central Hudson failed to provide bills to tens of thousands of
customers in a timely fashion."
A DPS Staff report more specifically noted, "Central Hudson’s billing issues also caused problems related to energy
services companies (ESCOs)."
The DPS Staff reported states, "On March 25, 2022, Agway Energy Services filed a
petition with the commission for a declaratory ruling concerning Central Hudson’s failure to provide accurate bills. The petition alleged that Central Hudson’s new
billing system was causing numerous problems which were impacting customers
who purchased energy through ESCOs. Agway complained of customers being
overbilled, underbilled, not being billed at all, and in some instances receiving large,
multi-month bills after not being billed for several months. Additionally, Agway
complained that Central Hudson’s new billing system was causing numerous errors
related to EDI ... In its petition, Agway claimed,
'[n]umerous EDI-related issues have arisen since Central Hudson’s system went
online in September, which have directly impacted Agway and cost Agway
thousands of dollars in lost productivity and staffing costs.'"
In its petition, Away had alleged, "[T]he errors number in the thousands and include EDI file formatting
errors that prevent Agway processing EDI records without manual
intervention; payment files that do not match the corresponding POR
cash payments sent to Agway; cancel transactions without matching
rebill transactions; invoice transactions without corresponding meter
read transactions; incorrect dollar amounts or meter reads (often the
amounts are double-charged on invoice transactions); doubled units on
EDI invoices (EDI 810); and drop transactions that do not relate to