GREEN COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — While it may be common for utility bills to jump around with the change of seasons, it’s not common for a jump to be worth thousands. Some Hudson Valley customers of the utility company Central Hudson Gas and Electric said that now, they’re stuck with a bill they cannot pay.
Anne Macpherson lives alone on a small farm in Greene County. Until this week, her typical Central Hudson bill—budgeted and charged to her landlord—is no more than $350 per month. The last bill she’d received was in November. Then, on Tuesday, her landlord was notified that they owe about $12,000 for their electricity.
“I am not paying a cent except for what is real. And what is real is roughly $350 in the winter and can be as low as $160 in the summer,” Macpherson said.
McPherson’s landlord apparently received five emails from Central Hudson in a week, each with a different amount due. Ranging from as low as $1,800 to as high as $3,000, the five emailed numbers total around $12,350.
“There are people who are on welfare and people who are on fixed incomes like I am—social security,” Macpherson said. “There is no way that we could ever pay that unless they gave us a 60-year payout. Then, maybe.”
Central Hudson blamed its new billing software and a volatile energy market for the significantly higher bills some customers received. “Between January and February, for Central Hudson customers, we saw natural gas prices increase by over 30% and we saw electric prices more than double,” says spokesperson Joe Jenkins. “To give you a little background on that, those prices are not set by Central Hudson. Electric supply prices are market-based.”
Jenkins said the company will not force a customer to pay a bill they feel is inaccurate. He said that anyone concerned with their bill should call Central Hudson. If the bill is incorrect, he said they’ll issue a new one.
“They can reach out to us and we will walk them through the bill to ensure its accuracy,” Jenkins said. “We will conduct an account audit and walk them through and if the bill is inaccurate, we will cancel that bill and recharge them at the appropriate rate.”
Meanwhile, Macpherson said she has tried to call Central Hudson repeatedly and has yet to receive any help.