ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Customers of Hudson Valley utility company Central Hudson Gas and Electric noted an enormous spike in their utility bills in April. Now, after a six-month investigation, an arm of the New York State Public Service Commission has found that the utility allegedly violated regulations, which led to billing errors.

Based on the decision, released on Thursday, Central Hudson has 30 days to demonstrate why it should not be penalized. The company was also ordered to submit a plan to eliminate bi-monthly estimates and to evaluate the potential impacts of such a change on customers. Otherwise, the company could face civil penalties and a financial review.

“Ensuring customer bills are accurate is the singular responsibility of the utility, and the Department has investigated Central Hudson’s action with the goal of holding them accountable for any billing errors and ensuring their customers are held harmless,” said Commission Chair Rory M. Christian. “Given the scope and seriousness of the utility billing problems at Central Hudson, the Department will now determine the level of Commission action required to address these issues.”

Central Hudson serves around 309,000 electric customers and 84,000 natural gas customers in the mid-Hudson Valley. The company’s territory spans from the suburbs of New York City to the Capital Region. Joe Jenkins, Associate Director of Media Relations for the utility, apologized for the confusion its new billing system caused.

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 have 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. We will always be committed to finding ways to improve the customer experience.

Joe Jenkins