New New York Law Limits Utilities Back-Billing

In the wake of that NYSEG and Central Hudson billing mess, a new law puts a time limit on New York utilities. See how it affects your future energy bills.

New Year, New Law for Utility Bills

The new law restricts how long utilities can wait to bill you. Learn how it could affect your future energy bills.
When NYSEG and Central Hudson billing problems overcharged customers, Albany responded with a new law limiting back-billing by utilities. Learn how it may affect your future power bills.

Anger over billing errors is driving up-staters to shop for the cheapest energy deals from ESCOs. NY customer complaints of bad utility billing practices soared in 2022. In fact, the PSC reported a 60% rise in customer complaints, mainly about billing. The state acted against the utilities in the form of a law signed by the governor in December. Let’s look into the new law that limits utilities back-billing.

Billing Issues that Led to New Utilities Law

It started with the rollout of a new billing system in September 2021. Then Central Hudson customers began to see big billing issues. Bills were thousands of dollars higher than normal, didn’t come for months, came more than one per month, and other issues. What’s worse is state probes say that the utility knew about many of the problems with the new system and could have avoided them. But this utility was not alone in the billing fiasco.

NYSEG had similar billing issues the past few years. Company executives say bill estimating rather than actual meter reading is part of the problem. Utilities also lost staff during and after the lockdown periods in 2020. This left them short in customer service and billing departments.

Customers and public officials complained loudly for months. People became even more riled up when both these utility companies filed to increase NY electric rates in 2023.

How Does the Utilities Law Limit Back Billing?

By 2023, state officials really felt the pressure to protect people from bad utility billing practices. In February that pressure let to action action in the state senate. More specifically, a new measure hit the state senate floor. The bill was signed into law in December. Now, in January 2024, the law is in effect. Simply put, it is now illegal for New York utility companies to bill for gas or electricity if more than two months go by without a bill. Not only do individual people benefit from the law, but also small businesses.

Many factors came together to cause the recent billing issues of major NY utilities. But the new law protects customers from late billing in any scenario. However, many people also claimed to have bills that were far higher than they should have been. The new law does not address these problems in any way. So, there is still work to do.

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