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  • Writer's pictureTommy Zurhellen

A Tale of Two Central Hudsons

Monday, September 25th

Dear Friends:

You’ve probably seen the waves of TV and social media advertisements from Central Hudson lately. They sure seem to want our forgiveness after their billing disaster drew the ire of pretty much every resident in the Hudson Valley. Some of the ads feature new Central Hudson CEO Christopher Capone, who replaced the ousted Charles Freni in February. In one video, Capone walks leisurely through a grassy meadow, accompanied by soft music, as he tries to convince us Central Hudson will own up to its mistakes. It’s an impressive media campaign that costs a lot of money, and if you take the apology at face value, you just might believe they will make good on their promise to do better.

But at the same time, Central Hudson is proposing a huge 16% -- 19% hike for electric and gas delivery, starting in 2024. That means if Central Hudson supplies both gas and electricity to your home or business, the average bill will go up by an astounding $750 next year. That is unacceptable, and I agree wholeheartedly with my friend Pat Ryan who said, “They have no business raising rates any amount, and definitely not 16, 19%, which is what they’ve proposed." This enormous rate hike sure doesn’t feel like an apology. It feels like a sucker punch to the face.

Would the real Central Hudson please stand up?

I’ve talked with so many people on the campaign trail who have shared their own Central Hudson billing horror stories with me. This isn’t a Democrat issue or a Republican issue; we’re all in this together. It’s clear everyone is still very angry over the way they have been treated. And so far, I haven’t met one person who believes this won’t happen again.

We need a Dutchess County Executive who will hold Central Hudson accountable. Our county government is the first line of defense against unfair billing practices by outside corporations. The next County Executive must serve as a true watchdog who will partner with our federal and state leaders like Pat Ryan and Michelle Hinchey, to make sure something like this never happens again.

I don’t think Sue Serino will hold Central Hudson accountable. Sadly, my opponent has accepted thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Central Hudson, starting back in 2015. Even worse, as a NY State Senator, my opponent voted against legislation that would protect citizens from unfair billing practices by utility companies. That’s not a good look for someone who wants to be our first line of defense against the greed of outside corporations. Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t think you can protect people from a corporation when you take money from that same corporation.

We can’t afford another County Executive who puts corporations above our communities. We are sick and tired of county leaders who see nothing wrong with giving away $25 million of our tax money to an outside corporation like New York Yankees, while our kids suffer from food insecurity and our seniors struggle to stay in their homes. Who knows, maybe they are planning their next $25 million secret giveaway to benefit Central Hudson? Don’t laugh. After all, these corporations are already laughing all the way to the bank. (Central Hudson has been owned by a Canadian conglomerate called Fortis, Inc. since 2013, so maybe I should say “banque” instead.)

In November, you will have a clear choice between two candidates for Dutchess County Executive. One candidate has accepted thousands in campaign donations from Central Hudson. The other candidate will never accept any money from Central Hudson or any other corporation. Which candidate would you trust to defend your family against predatory billing practices by Central Hudson or any other corporation?

With early voting only a month away, we need your help right now to make sure our next County Executive serves the needs of our communities instead of the bottom line of corporations. We need everyone to join our fight for fairness and decency. Please consider a donation today using the secure Act Blue link below to keep our campaign going. The stakes couldn’t be higher. Thank you for your support!

Before I sign off this week, I want to make one thing clear: while we all dislike Central Hudson’s unfair billing practices, we can agree we love our local Central Hudson road crews, meter readers, and maintenance personnel. They do an amazing job protecting our communities, especially in severe weather, and we owe them our thanks and admiration. Thankfully, Central Hudson has pledged to hire more field workers – moving forward, we will see if they keep their promises. As your next County Executive, you can count on me to keep watch for you, starting day one.

Thank you for listening! See you next time!

Respectfully, Tommy


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