Assemblymember Sarahana Shrestha Joins Congressman Pat Ryan’s Call for Central Hudson CEO to Resign

KINGSTON, NY — Assemblymember Sarahana Shrestha (D-Esopus) joins Congressman Pat Ryan’s call for the CEO of Central Hudson, Charles Freni, to resign, following the catastrophic billing errors that have impacted tens of thousands of ratepayers in the Hudson Valley. As determined by the investigative report released by NYS Department of Public Service in December, the corporate utility’s negligence left customers stuck with bills that overcharged them, bills that never arrived, and large automatic withdrawals from their bank account. $21 million dollars of the $88 million Central Hudson spent on “modernizing” its billing system is expected to be paid by ratepayers through June 30, 2023.

“Many of us have been fighting against Central Hudson’s disregard for ratepayers long before its billing errors started,” said Shrestha, “Like all other corporate utilities, the company is constantly seeking to raise its rates, increase profits for shareholders, and lobby against legislation that would get us off fossil fuels and democratize our energy system to work for the people. 

And now, even when there’s an abundance of evidence that Central Hudson’s negligence has caused immense hardship to Hudson Valley residents, the tools we have to hold the corporate utility accountable aren’t robust and speedy enough to provide instant relief to those impacted. For that reason, it’s important to demand full accountability from those who are in charge of services that are integral to the quality of our life.

However, we cannot have energy justice unless we also hold accountable those who are appointed to lead public entities like the New York Power Authority (NYPA), the country’s largest publicly owned energy provider. Currently, the Governor plans to appoint Justin Driscoll, who has close ties to the fossil fuel industry, as NYPA’s next President and CEO. At an Assembly hearing conducted last year, Driscoll opposed the Build Public Renewables Act, a bill that instructs NYPA to build affordable renewable energy to make up for the private sector’s shortcomings. He expressed that NYPA’s role should not be expanded in our renewable transition.

I call for the resignation of the CEO of Central Hudson, Charles Freni, and I also call on my Senate colleagues to vote against the nomination of Justin Driscoll, just as they did with the nomination of Hector Lasalle for Chief Judge. Those who are at the helm must have a vision and a plan for putting the public’s well-being at the center.”