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A Group of Residents Raises Concerns About Proposed Central Hudson-Fortis Merger

Christopher Sessums, flickr

The New York State Public Service Commission is reviewing the proposed merger of Poughkeepsie-based CH Energy Group -the parent company of Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corporation - and Canadian utility company Fortis, Inc.  A public comment period will close at the end of the month, and at least one group of residents from Ulster County has written with its concerns.

The 16 residents, including 13 from Rosendale, penned the letter urging the PSC to consider the short- and long-term impacts of the proposed merger. Rosendale resident Jennifer Metzger, who also chairs the town’s advisory Environmental Commission, signed the letter.

She and the others took their concerns to Democratic State Assembly Member Kevin Cahill, who represents parts of Ulster and Dutchess Counties.

He says he met with the group of residents last week.

NAFTA refers to the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the residents write that Fortis may be able to override state regulations through the use of NAFTA. Calls to Fortis were referred to Central Hudson, where Denise Doring VanBuren is a spokeswoman.

The proposed merger includes a freeze on electric and gas delivery rates through July of 2014. There is also a provision to establish a $5 million Community Benefit Fund, an amount Cahill calls meager when compared with other mergers and acquisitions. But Central Hudson’s VanBuren says the community benefits are even greater.

Assembly Member Cahill says he plans to continue making sure the merger is, in fact, in the public’s best interest.

Central Hudson’s VanBuren says Central Hudson announced the proposed merger in February of 2012, and, if all approvals were granted, thought the deal would be closed the first quarter this year. She says she understands the PSC could have the merger decision on its April agenda.