Have you recently done a doubletake when you opened your Central Hudson bill? You're not alone. Across the Hudson Valley, residents have been reporting huge, and seemingly random, spikes in their utility bills. While Central Hudson says a software glitch that happened when they switched billing software at the end of 2021 can be to blame, they have also acknowledged that price increases may be here to stay. So which one is it? And do you have to pay your giant bill? Here are three things you can do to find out.

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A meter reading can help you decide if you bill is incorrect (Dan Brandenburg/Canva)
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1. Meter, Meter, on the Wall

One way to make sure your bill isn't a glitch is to opt for bills based on your meter readings, instead of estimated usage. From Beacon resident Lo DeRosa on Facebook:

I’ve learned... to send in my readings each month on my own. 'Human error' caused my bill to go up ASTRONOMICALLY... I take the reading, email it and then request a call back. I’ve also asked them to install a digital meter, which is of no cost to me. I will continue to send in my readings each month, even on actual reading months.

While you still may have to deal with customer service, having your actual meter reading each month will help you keep track of the energy you actually used, and help you judge whether it was your usage or the prices that have gone up, or if it was one of their reported billing errors.

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2. Go Over Their Heads

Sometimes, calling a company helpline isn't enough. Or maybe you just don't have 17 hours to wait on hold. Luckily, there's another option if you want to dispute your charges. Hudson Valley resident Erik Lawrence had this suggestion:

If [your billing issue] is still unresolved you need to file a complaint with the NYS Dept of Public Services and the NYS Office of the Attorney General. I’ve done both... I’ve been back and forth with Central Hudson since late December to no avail.

Like Mr. Lawrence, the Department of Public Service asks residents to first file a complaint with their energy provider, but if you've already taken that step, you can file a complaint with them over natural gas or electric billing issues here. For propane and home heating oil, you should contact the Attorney General.

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3. Local Help

Residents from across the Hudson Valley are also recognizing the power in numbers. Many towns, like Beacon, NY are now participating in Community Choice Aggregation (CCA). From the City of Beacon:

[CCA] allows us to pool local electricity demand with other Hudson Valley municipalities. Through this program, we can leverage the collective buying power of our homes and small businesses... While Central Hudson will continue to deliver the electricity, provide repair services, and handle billing, the utility will no longer be the default supplier of electricity to our community

You can check out more on Hudson Valley Community Power and see if you live in an eligible area here.

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