KINGSTON, N.Y. – The Public Service Commission will consider taking action at a Thursday meeting against a water company that has faced Ulster County customer complaints and political criticism for years.
Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger said that the company’s continued problems “are unacceptable.”
“I am pleased to see that the Public Service Commission intends to immediately address our request to take action against the Hudson Valley Water Company,” Metzger said in a statement on Monday. “The HVWC’s chronic failures are unacceptable, and their failure to follow the improvement plan set out for them by the Commission shows more drastic action is necessary. As I said earlier this week in my State of the County Address, water is life, and our residents deserve service they can depend on.”
Jeffrey Fuller, president of the water company, could not be immediately reached for comment on Monday. But Fuller said in January that the company is open “to mutual and fair discussions” with larger water providers” for a possible takeover of the company but believes a transfer is “unwarranted.”
Fuller offered up his opinions in a Jan. 11 letter to the state Public Service Commission.
In that letter, Fuller also said scenarios outlined by Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger in a letter signed by her and other officials to the PSC were not fully accurate. The letter was sent to the PSC earlier in January.
The company serves several Ulster County communities, including Mount Marion, High Falls, Pine Lane-Hurley, West Hurley and Boiceville.
In her letter, Metzger said that after a system failure began on Dec.16, the Boiceville system was left without drinking water service for nearly a month, according to her office.
Metzger and town officials want the state Public Service Commission to start proceedings to remove the owners of the Hudson Valley Water Company, Inc. and install a single operator in response to the company’s ongoing service failures, according to her office.
Metzger said town supervisors from the company’s service area, including Hurley Town Supervisor Michael Boms, Olive Town Supervisor Jim Sofranko, Rosendale Town Supervisor Jeanne Walsh, and Saugerties Town Supervisor Fred Costello, signed on to a letter penned by Metzger and filed with the Department of Public Service.
Ulster County and state legislators also signed on to that letter in support.
“For far too long, Hudson Valley Water Company customers have been plagued by service interruptions, poor communication, and the company’s outright failure to follow its own Commission-approved Standard Operating Procedures and Emergency Plan,” Metzger said in a statement in January. “It is unacceptable to leave hundreds of Ulster County residents with no access to safe running drinking water for days at a time, and it is high time for the Public Service Commission to find a new qualified operator to take over and operate this critical service.”
Metzger said subsequently that she had heard from the Department of Public Service.
“In response to our call for the Department of Public Service to put in place a new operator for Hudson Valley Water Company … we received a positive response from DPS signaling that they are actively considering our request,” Metzger said in an email in late January. “The letter states that DPS has been “actively investigating” HVWC, and is “urgently considering short-term actions to ensure customers are provided with safe drinking water” while they evaluate long-term solutions, including the option our office has presented.”
“I fully stand by the statements and requests made in our letter, which was signed by a dozen local, county, and state elected officials, and I was pleased to see Mr. Fuller acknowledge in his response that he is open to a facilitated transfer of the water system to a qualified entity,” Metzger said. “I look forward to state regulators taking immediate and appropriate action to protect the health, safety, and well-being of the 430 households in our County that depend on these community water systems.”