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AG settles with waste haulers

A settlement has been reached with Casella Waste Systems Inc., resolving concerns that its contracting practices were restrictive.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who announced the settlement Monday, was also concerned about Cassella’s market dominance, pattern of acquisitions of smaller competitors and unlawfully restrained competition in the North Country and Southern Tier.

The settlement requires Casella to change its contracts to reduce the legal and financial obstacles faced by customers who wish to switch to competing providers. The changes are expected to rejuvenate competition by reducing customers’ switching costs and facilitating new market entry. The settlement also requires Casella to report certain future acquisitions of competitors to the attorney general’s office, and to pay the state $100,000.

Under the settlement, Casella has agreed not to enroll customers in contracts with an initial term of more than two years. Casella also agreed to reduce its penalty for early termination to three months’ service for the first year of a contract and to only one month’s service after the first year. In addition, Casella agreed to notify the attorney general if it acquires a competitor of a minimum size in certain key upstate counties. The settlement applies to the counties where Casella has the strongest market presence including Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany and Steuben.