Sandy Victims Charged for Power

elvisNovember 24, 2012

Here's an outrage reported by the New York Post:

By DOUG AUER

Last Updated: 9:34 AM, November 24, 2012

Posted: 12:59 AM, November 24, 2012

"LIPA customers who spent weeks without power got zapped with their normal electric bills � as if the outages never happened.

The clueless utility charged Sandy-soaked Long Island residents an estimated rate that covered the entire billing cycle, and the statements made no mention of potential refunds to account for the prolonged blackouts.

Jonathan Saporta was slapped with a double whammy by the Long Island Power Authority � a $649 bill for the Long Beach home he left in October and a $281 bill for his new Great Neck pad.

He also is expecting a $1,700 bill for his storm-ravaged restaurant, Jake�s Wayback Burger, which is in hard-hit Long Beach and remains without power.

Jonathan Saporta fumes over a huge LIPA bill he got despite having no power for two weeks, while another LIPA customer, sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner, got his bill for a Long Beach building (below) that is still powerless. "I can�t get LIPA to acknowledge my existence on earth to talk to me about anything," he ranted. "But I guess they had power, so they could print my bills. Nice, right?"

Saporta, 33, moved to the Great Neck home on Oct. 1 and got the bill in the mail on Wednesday for a cycle covering 43 days � including the two weeks he spent in the dark following the Oct. 29 storm.

Even though he switched his account to the new address on Sept. 26, he still received an e-mail bill for the Long Beach house on Nov. 10 � and somehow it was $390 more than the previous month.

"I am not paying any of my bills, that much I promise," said Saporta. "They can put me into collections, and I�ll fight them tooth-and-nail.

"It�s simply criminal."

Michael Hilferty, 29, an attorney from Long Beach, was e-mailed his bill � which was about a dollar more than the previous month � as he chowed down on some turkey.

"To get this message on Thanksgiving was crass and classless. It�s just heartless," he said.

His oceanfront building was flooded with 7 feet of water and inundated with 4 feet of sand, covering the LIPA meters.

Hilferty left the apartment, which remains dark and boarded up, and has been staying in Connecticut.

Yet he was hit for 29 days of electric usage, including delivery and system charges.

David Wasserman, 40, of Merrick, tried to report online the difference between his actual and estimated electric usage.

"I got some message that said, �Service records show your usage would be higher. Please call an operator for further assistance,� " he said. "No one ever picked up."

LIPA did not return repeated calls seeking comment.

Con Ed, on the other hand, wants to refund its Manhattan customers who lost power $3 and customers from other boroughs who lost power $6, the utility proposed this week in a filing with the Public Service Commission. Those figures represent a portion of customers� fixed monthly bills, which exclude power usage.

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pnbrown

Spreading the loss. Imagine the costs to the utilities from such storms, even though of course they have insurers, they probably also have immense deductibles. Infrastructure costs looking forward will be very high.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 7:29AM
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chase_gw

I suspect that most of the bills received after Sandy were already in the billing stream.

Like most companies the billing cut off date is as much as 10 days in advance of the mailing date. This allows for compiling of the billing data, processing of the bills, printing, mailing etc. Additionally many companies bill usage in arrears and provisioning in advance.

It is also highly likely that at the time the bills were processed there was no way of telling the billing systems which customers were without service, in service, restored, or what the period of outage might have been. Typically it would take an entire billing cycle to straighten that out.

It will be straightened out and appropriate credits received.

Tell you one thing , I would NOT want to be an agent in their call centre!!

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 8:03AM
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labrea_gw

From NY State senator Martins.

"LIPA hasn't had a permanent chief executive in two years; five spots on their board are still vacant; the trustees discussed the hurricane for only 39 seconds; they didn't trim enough trees prior to the storm, their service maps are outdated; their wiring is antiquated; they never installed a monitoring system; their communication with customers stinks. All real issues that need to be addressed, but they've existed for years and remain unresolved.

So now heads will supposedly roll and an overhaul is in the works. It's de ja-vu. LIPA was created in the 1980's by former Governor Mario Cuomo in response to the Long Island Lighting Company's inability to handle outages after Hurricane Gloria and the aftermath of the shuttered Shoreham Plant.

Let me be the first to tell you the ugly truth: you can swap out every executive at LIPA and name it whatever you want and when the dust settles, nothing will have been achieved if we don't address the underlying structural issues at LIPA. Of course, some cursory procedural progress is possible but the real problem is LIPA's ailing infrastructure and more importantly, that, given our already highest in the nation utility costs, we can't afford to fix it. The legacy costs LIPA has carried have merely kicked the can down the road the billions borrowed still have to be paid and that has to be factored into any future LIPA reincarnation.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 10:12AM
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jodik_gw

And the eastern seaboard is not the only area of this country in which such infrastructure is outdated and run poorly...

Right now, there's not a paycheck large enough to make me work at THAT call center! I can only imagine how livid some of the customers are...

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 1:57PM
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maggie2094

Salt in the wound literally...I am sure pnbrown would suggest we all just move and how dare we live on an island my that actually has a big population.

look up the bay park sewage plant if you want to see more aging infrastructure, currently dumping 65 million gallons of 'partially' treated sewage a day with bo end in site into the channek where it sloshes around like a giant toilet bowl.

We are in he'll right now! Lipa will get my payment never!

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 2:15PM
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david52_gw

I heard an interesting history of LIPA, hopefully kwoods or others that live there can elaborate. But something about some incredibly corrupt-union, Mafia/kickback connection when building the nuclear power plant that ended up costing 5 X (or more) where guys would build a component and the next shift would come in and knock it down kinda thing. Finally went bankrupt, taken over by the gvt, lots of bonds to pay off, end result is some of the most expensive power in the country.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 6:29PM
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labrea_gw

Shoreham history!

Here is a link that might be useful: Shoreham

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 10:23PM
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maggie2094

Hopefully Kwoods or others that live there....

That's great enjoy your history lesson.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 10:27PM
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david52_gw

Maggie, when you talk about specific places in NYC, I have to confess that my knowledge of the environs is pretty much the yin to this yang, the famous New Yorker cartoon....

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 11:41PM
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pnbrown

Maggie, you're patly right, I would recommend that many of you move. Anybody who was smart would sell before property in the low-lying areas has zero value. Wanna buy a house in the Far Rockaways?

BTW, has anybody noticed that I'm not the only one thinking that - NYC is going to demolish many residences. I wonder what the compensation to property owners will be, if any.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 7:41AM
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kimka(Zone 6B)

PEPCO here in the Washington DC area had been getting away with having gotten a ruling through the Public Service Commission of all three jurisdictions (DC, MD, and VA) to do the same: charge people as if they had been getting service, so PEPCO had no incentive (its a for profit company) to actually get the power back on. After a number of very public extended failures to restore power over three years and failures to communicate with customers that went up to and included posting on line many streets as having power restored when the whole neighborhood still didn't have power, the public finally spoke the right way to get attention.

It was clearly stated in press conference after press conference by groups, that if the charge the same with or without power regulation was allowed to stand, the voters would target the politcians who had appointed the members of the Public Service Commissions (since those PEPCO toadies always did what PEPCO wanted) and everyone of the politicians regardless of party or any other issue.

That elicited the right kind of response because for the first time, rate increases were refused to PEPCO and that charge anyway regulation was repealed.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 9:47AM
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labrea_gw

The Rockaway's are so diverse from the run down areas & housing projects of Far Rockaway to places like Neponsit where homes range a couple of million.

For anyone who has ever flown in to Kennedy airport it would be just to the right of the word Jamaica Bay

I could understand leaving areas of continued flooding where have areas in New Jersey that the rivers flood year after year as opposed to the now & then here & there devastation of a hurricane.

This has all run off topic which is about a utility that never did quite make the overhaul it was supposed to have made.

Here is a link that might be useful: Real estate Article July

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 10:12AM
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