Hudson Valley News
7:14 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

NYS Assemblyman Writes to PSC, State AG About Proposed Utility Merger

Credit Christopher Sessums, flickr

A Hudson Valley assemblyman has penned a letter to the New York State attorney general with concerns over a proposed merger involving a local utility company. A spokesman for the utility company insists the merger is in the public interest.

State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, a Democrat who represents parts of Dutchess and Ulster Counties, has been expressing his concerns for some time about the proposed merger of Poughkeepsie-based CH Energy Group with Canadian energy company Fortis, Inc. He announced Tuesday that he had issued a letter to the Public Service Commission asking for an extension of the public comment period, to be followed by a letter to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

He says it’s an issue that should be vetted before the Public Service Commission issues a determination. Cahill is concerned that Fortis could override state regulations through the use of NAFTA. CH Energy Group is the parent of Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corporation. Here’s Central Hudson spokesman John Maserjian.

Many residents are under the impression the comment period closes Friday, March 22. A Public Service Commission spokesman says the PSC will accept public comments up to the time it makes its determination, and no date has been set for a determination. Cahill says that in addition to extending the comment period for at least another 90 days, he wants the PSC to schedule additional public hearings, with the principals of the companies on hand to take questions. The PSC spokesman says Cahill’s request will be made part of the public record and will be reviewed.

Cahill says the public needs more time to provide input, as many consumer advocacy groups have withered or been severely constricted.

The Town Board of Woodstock Tuesday unanimously approved a letter to the Public Service Commission opposing the proposed merger. Here’s Town Supervisor Jeremy Wilber.

And his opposition comes because of Fortis, because he believes it does not promote sustainable energy or the best environmental practices. Central Hudson’s Maserjian says a merger with Fortis would leave Central Hudson much as it is, but with the benefit of access to enhanced resources, like capital.

Others concerned about the merger include a group of 17 Ulster County residents, many from Rosendale. The citizens are holding a panel discussion this evening, followed by questions and answers, from 7-9 in Lecture Center 100, at SUNY New Paltz. Spokesman John Maserjian says no one from Central Hudson was invited to attend.

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