Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson’s Utility Justice Campaign fights for an affordable and environmentally sustainable energy system in the Mid-Hudson Valley and statewide. The Campaign has already won an investigation by New York State into the Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation, which led to policy changes that 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 Campaign has also secured statewide policy change that expanded energy assistance program funding by $69 million and expanded eligibility by 550,000 households.
High gas and electric utility rates are coupled with inadequate assistance programs and policies that allow the power of households that fall behind on payments to be shut off—even during the winter and/or even when children, elderly, seriously ill, or disabled people are in the home. This critical issue affects people nationally, in New York state, and the Mid-Hudson Valley.
In 2016 there was an over $36 billion gap between low-income families’ actual energy utility bills and bills that would have been affordable. In New York state, people below 50% of the poverty line pay an average of 31% of their income to energy utility bills, while affordable energy is 6% or less of household income. The Mid-Hudson Valley’s energy utility monopoly that serves about 1 million people, Central Hudson, has charges that average 37-47% of the income of its customers below 50% of the poverty line.
The utility affordability and shutoff crisis disproportionately affects working-class people of color. National studies show that Black households get their power shut off over twice as frequently as white households.
Our Utility Justice Campaign works to address these conditions by organizing for an affordable and sustainable statewide energy system as a Steering Committee Member of the New York Energy Democracy Alliance. We are also organizing against Central Hudson’s unjust policies in order to increase affordability, decrease shutoffs, and close the racial inequity gap.
While the utility system would not be possible without public support, corporations like Central Hudson reap the rewards and leave communities behind. Not only does Central Hudson put profit before people, they put their profit before the environment and a sustainable future.