In December 2015, Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson successfully petitioned the New York Public Service Commission (PSC), the state’s utility regulator, to conduct a public investigation into the Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp for possible illegal shutoffs and racial discrimination.
Over the last 20 months, our members submitted official testimony to the PSC, spoke out in the media, created a policy report, and kept the pressure on the PSC and Central Hudson through direct action.
Black women, who are most impacted by shutoffs, have been particularly courageous in sharing their stories and continuing the fight. Trudy saw her son Joel, born only 19 weeks into her pregnancy with a 10% chance of survival, make it through a brain aneurysm and a hole in his heart, only to almost lose him when Central Hudson shut off the power multiple times while Joel was connected to electrical equipment needed to keep him alive. Zakiyyah had to sleep in her car, in the winter, at age 60, because it was warmer than her home without heat. Donna and her daughter Princess were without heat or lights for over a year before their power got turned back on, leading to burst pipes and black mold. Angela, at over 60, had to rush to the hospital when her power was shut off because she wasn’t able to get a doctor’s note in time to confirm that she still had the same life-threatening chronic illnesses since Central Hudson’s last confirmation 31 days before, and the 30 days before that.
On September 14th , the results of the PSC’s investigation were released. They show Central Hudson shuts off more customers, and at a lower debt threshold, than other utilities; conducts more winter shut offs; and conducts disproportionate shutoffs in zip codes inhabited by a larger-than- average population of color.*
As a result of the investigation, Central Hudson will raise the general debt threshold used to determine shutoffs and raise the debt threshold during the winter compared to other times of year. They will also prioritize shutoffs on accounts with the oldest and greatest arrears** and institute other new measures to reduce shutoffs.
Central Hudson’s policy changes in response to the investigation should mean fewer people of color having their power shut off, fewer people being shut off during the hazardous winter months, and significantly fewer people having their power shut off each year.
* The report shows these from pages 14-18
** The PSC report reveals “efficiency” – shutting off the most people with the fewest trucks – is a criterion that Central Hudson currently uses to help determine who they shut off as opposed to purely shutting off those with the oldest and greatest arrears. Because median White wealth is 12 times higher than median Black wealth, and because there is significant Black-White housing segregation in cities, this criterion certainly leads to disproportionate shutoffs of people of color.
Thank you for your support in all its different forms — from submitting public comments and showing up at protests to donating — you helped make this possible. We won this together.