Central Hudson is proudly growing its fleet of green vehicles. In addition to a Toyota Prius and the use of a biodiesel fuel blend in all of our heavy-duty trucks, in 2011 we have added the following:
“Electricity as a fuel is less than half the cost of gasoline, and emissions from electric generation sources are about 70 percent less than those of gasoline engines,” said James P. Laurito, President of Central Hudson. “These vehicles will help protect the environment while reducing operating costs.”
Q: What is Central Hudson's stance on the importance of renewable energy?
A: Since deregulation took place more than 10 years ago, Central Hudson and other New York state utilities are no longer allowed to build or operate power plants. We now continue to serve as your energy delivery company and are responsible for maintaining the electric and gas infrastructure as well as ensuring the reliable flow of energy to about 300,000 homes and businesses in the region.
Even though most customers pay their entire energy bill through Central Hudson, it is only the delivery portion of that bill that goes to Central Hudson. We generally do not have control over the sources that are used to supply that energy. However, we do value the importance of renewable energy and have been proactive where we can be in doing our part to champion the development and use of renewable energy technologies.
• While we were required to sell off our power plants during deregulation, we were allowed to keep some small hydro-electric facilities in the region. Our hydro-electric facilities still provide electricity to about 2 percent of homes in our service territory in the Hudson Valley. And we continue to invest in those green facilities in an effort to extend their usefulness and maximize the power that can be drawn from that clean, renewable energy source.
• Central Hudson has also been named one of the leading utilities in support of solar energy by the Solar Electric Power Association four years in a row. There is a high concentration of solar power users in our territory and we have a strong net metering program in place that allows people with home solar installations to sell excess power back to us. You can learn more about that system on this page of our website. To further enhance our net metering operations and support our customers who use solar power, and the local professionals who install solar power systems, we hosted a "Solar Summit" at our Kingston office earlier this year. More than 70 solar energy professionals from the Hudson Valley attended this event. It included speakers from Central Hudson and various solar industry groups. Those who attended overwhelmingly expressed their appreciation for the event. It was a great way to strengthen relationships and do our part to bolster the use of this renewable resource here in the Hudson Valley.
• We also aggressively promote green power and educate customers about the options they all have to support renewable energy. Visit the Green Power page of our website to find out your options for supporting the production of renewable fuels here in New York state with your energy dollars.
Tropical Storm Irene slammed the Hudson Valley on Aug. 28, 2011. Severe, sustained winds toppled trees and snapped 300 utility poles while excessive rain flooded entire towns and washed away numerous roads and bridges. The storm knocked out power to 180,000 Central Hudson customers, making it the second-most disruptive storm event in company history.
“Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time the weather system reached our area, but that was of little consolation to the region,” said Central Hudson President James P. Laurito. “Although this was the second-worst storm in our history, parts of the Mid-Hudson Valley region had never seen anything like this,” he said. “The challenges were daunting – trees completely blocking long stretches of roadways, eroded and collapsed culverts, destroyed bridges, neighborhoods flooded by fast-moving water and in some areas utility poles were completely washed away and underground natural gas lines exposed. This made for very dangerous working conditions, and hampered travel to some of the hardest-hit areas. It took a concerted effort by emergency services, highway departments and utility crews to open roads and restore services quickly and safely.”
Preparation for the topical storm was also extensive. Central Hudson participated in conference calls with the National Weather Service and other utilities in order to gauge the potential impact to the region. Mutual aid crews from other utilities and private contractors were brought in from as far as Florida and Kansas to assist in the restoration effort, despite the widespread need for assistance by many other utilities in Irene’s path from North Carolina to Maine.
“As a community we prevailed,” said Laurito. “Nature dealt a strong blow, and everyone pitched in. We’re also proud to report that Central Hudson employees and contractors came through the ordeal without one serious injury.”
Although the storms have passed, work continues for many communities, and for Central Hudson. Crews are inspecting natural gas lines and regulator stations, particularly in areas where serious erosion occurred, to ensure that the gas system continues to operate safely and effectively. Crews are also inspecting electric lines for damage that may not have affected service during these storms, but may during the next storm. Central Hudson is conducting a self-assessment, as is performed after every major storm event, so that lessons learned can be included in its emergency plan.“The resilience of our region allowed us all to face and overcome major challenges, and prepare for the challenges ahead,” said Laurito. “It’s good to know that we can always count on one another.”
Are you familiar with Central Hudson’s Good Neighbor Fund? Funded by voluntary contributions from Central Hudson employees and customers and matched by Central Hudson’s shareholders, the Good Neighbor Fund provides last resort funding to help customers who have exhausted all other forms of public assistance meet their energy needs.
The Good Neighbor Fund is administered by The Salvation Army and has been helping people right here in the Hudson Valley for more than 25 years. In recent years however, rising demand for these funds combined with a diminishing supply of donations has put a major strain on the Good Neighbor Fund’s ability to keep pace to help those in need.
To draw attention to this need and reward those who help their neighbors, for a limited time, Central Hudson has teamed with CDW and BitbyBit to offer a Lenovo laptop computer and Flip Ultra HD video camera as incentive prizes. Now through Nov. 30, any customer who makes a $10 donation to the Good Neighbor Fund will be entered into a drawing for these two great prizes. The laptop was generously donated by BitbyBit and the Flip camera by CDW. Visit www.centralhudson.com/goodneighborfund/ for more details about this promotion and complete prize drawing rules.
Neighbors helping neighbors. That’s what the Good Neighbor Fund is all about.
Natural gas furnaces
Natural gas boilers
Heat pump water heaters
Central air-source heat pumps
Customers who are registered for a CentralHudson.com “Your Account” can also log in to:
Thousands of customers downloaded the app during Hurricane Irene to monitor outage restoration progress. Users have currently rated the app at 4.1 out of a possible 5 stars on the Android Market.
As a result of deregulation, Central Hudson is an energy delivery company only. What this means, basically, is that we repair and maintain the 10,229 miles of electrical transmission and distribution lines, and 1,340 miles of gas transmission and distribution lines that are found throughout the Hudson Valley to ensure the constant, safe flow of energy to your home or business. We no longer own electric generating facilities (other than our small, local hydroelectric stations, which use renewable energy to provide less than two percent of our customers’ total electric energy needs). Power plants we formerly owned were sold to independent companies that, together with other generators throughout New York, now sell their energy into the wholesale market. It is through this market that Central Hudson purchases electricity on your behalf. We do not charge any markup or profit from this service or for the supply of kilowatt hours of electricity or cubic feet of natural gas themselves.
Competitive energy suppliers, known as “ESCOs,” also exist and offer alternatives for you to shop to purchase your energy supply only. Regardless of who you choose to be your energy supply company, Central Hudson will remain your energy delivery company. Supply and delivery charges are itemized on your Central Hudson bill. Review those charges for a better picture of what your energy costs are.
The search for the best price is the main reason customers shop for energy supply companies. However, you should take the time to understand what’s available and you should choose a supplier that deals with you fairly and honestly. Consider this list of “Top 10” things to keep in mind as you shop:
1. Apply good old common sense
Consumer advocates warn shoppers that “if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. If someone tells you that you can save a huge amount by switching suppliers, make sure you get it in writing.
2. Variable vs. fixed pricing
Be sure you understand if the product you’re buying is variable (where the price changes monthly or at some other interval), or if it’s fixed (where the price stays the same for a period of time). A fixed price deal will generally require that you stay with the ESCO for a year or longer. Some ESCOs also offer “green” energy products, which can affect the cost.
3. Compare offers to current market price
If what you're being offered is a fixed price, know what the fixed price is, and compare it to current prices. Fixed prices will generally be somewhat higher than current market prices. If it’s variable, ask what it is today, so you can determine if it’s reasonable compared to current levels. You can find Central Hudson’s current prices on your most recent bill, on our website – along with our month-by-month pricing history – or by calling us at (845) 452-2700.
4. Is there an early termination fee?
Ask if there if an early termination fee, such as you’d pay for ending a cell phone contract early.
5. Protect your account, Social Security numbers
Remember that your Central Hudson account number is the key to switching your account. DO NOT give out your account number until you have decided that you want to switch to the new supplier (ESCO). That account number may be all that an ESCO needs to switch your account, without your full knowledge and understanding. And no one has the right to insist that you give out personal information, such as social security numbers or banking information. Your account number appears on each page of your bill.
6. Buyer's remorse? Use brief window to cancel
Realize that in most cases, you have three business days after you agree to switch, during which you can rescind the agreement without penalty.
7. Salespeople aren't from Central Hudson
Make sure you know whom you’re dealing with. Central Hudson never calls or comes to the door offering to sell you anything. If a salesperson claims to represent Central Hudson, they are not being truthful and you should not deal with them. All authorized ESCOs are required to present identification showing their name and the name of their company. Ask to see it.
8. Check seller's complaint rates
You may want to check the complaint statistics for the ESCOs at the website of the New York State Public Service Commission. The details of the complaints are on the last two pages of the most recent monthly report. Keep in mind that some ESCOs have more sales contacts than others, which can affect the number of complaints.
9. Use this online resource to compare prices
Compare residential prices at New York’s “Power to Choose” website. By entering your zip code, you can see a selection of competing offers and their terms.
10. Keep an eye on your pricing
Remember that energy prices can be volatile, and are often affected by weather, economic conditions and world events. It is wise to periodically check what you are currently paying for your energy supply, and to have a trusted supplier.
You have the right to shop other suppliers, and we encourage you to exercise that right. But you are never required to choose another supplier. Central Hudson will always be here to provide your energy and to deliver it to you safely and reliably. That’s what choice is all about. You wouldn’t go out and buy a new television or oven without shopping carefully. You should use the same care in choosing who will supply the energy that powers those devices.
The vast majority of the ESCOs who seek to sell electricity and gas to Central Hudson customers are honest and fair, and they play by the rules established by New York State. But sometimes individual salespersons, in an effort to increase sales, will make statements that are not true. Some of these common tactics include:
Fiction: Central Hudson will no longer be able to supply your energy in the future.
Fiction: Central Hudson asked them to call or visit you in order to alert you to some new program or special discount.
Fiction: They are calling to correct some billing error or overcharge by Central Hudson, so that you get credit for the mistake.
Fiction: Use of phrases like “We are the Central Hudson approved agent” or “We have New York State approval” to imply exclusive rights.
Fiction: There is a time limit on your ability to switch, and you will miss the deadline if you don’t give them your account number right now.
Fiction: There are sales tax savings of “up to 13%” for switching.
One last fact: If you have any doubts about the offer being made to you, remember there is no need to act until you get the facts. Ask the salesperson to leave the information with you. If you need help understanding anything, contact us. We’ll be happy to help.
Delivering electricity and natural gas to our customers – safely, reliably and constantly – is a responsibility Central Hudson takes most seriously.
We are making significant investments in energy delivery systems and infrastructure, including the construction of new electric substations, improvements to our electrical transmission system, and upgrades to local distribution lines. In the last decade, we made investments of more than $475 million on such projects and expect to spend another $39 million in 2011. Another $81.5 million was invested in line clearance to keep tree limbs and vegetation away from our wires, and we will spend another $14 million on that this year.
We’re also undertaking a multi-year project to replace aging natural gas mains, particularly in urban areas, with newer, more modern materials. These investments totaled more than $123 million over the last ten years, with another $7.5 million to be invested this year.
Investments like these pay off in fewer outages, increased capacity to meet higher energy demand, and improved safety and service for you. We will continue to invest prudently in the years ahead to improve the reliability of your service.
Cold weather is around the corner and Central Hudson advises you to prepare by taking steps keep your home safe. Some suggestions:
Customers who switched from receiving a paper bill to our electronic eBills option from July 1 through Sept. 15 were entered in a drawing for a smartphone and a generous bill credit. Clockwise from above: Philip Meltzer of Rhinebeck was one of the three lucky winners of this promotion; Bill Kane of Lagrangeville, left, receives his prize from Central Hudson Director of Corporate Communications, Paul Tesoro; and Joe Tumay of Catskill collects his prize at our Kingston office.
Three lucky customers won smartphones for choosing eBills, Central Hudson’s paperless billing option, this summer. Philip Meltzer of Rhinebeck; Joe Tumay of Catskill; and Bill Kane of Lagrangeville were each selected in the random drawing and won a prize package worth up to $1,000, including an upgraded phone and extended cellular service.
EBills is the green, convenient and cost-effective way to conduct your transactions with Central Hudson. It’s green because it eliminates the need for paper in the process. It’s convenient because it eliminates your need to search for a stamp or make extra trips to the post office, and it's cost effective because there’s no postage expense involved. In total, customers together would save more than $1 million in return postage costs if every Central Hudson customer switched to eBills. And Central Hudson's expenses associated with bill processing and mailing would be reduced by an additional $1 million, with these savings ultimately passed back to customers.The promotion may be over, but you can sign up for and enjoy the benefits of eBills at anytime: www.centralhudson.com/ebills
Produced by the Corporate Communications Division