The Long Island Power Authority is rushing to respond to the outrage expressed by some Long Island residents who went weeks without electricity after Hurricane Sandy and have now been jolted by utility bills
as high as they'd be on a typical month.
Backlash over the bills has prompted LIPA to respond with efforts such as suspending late payment fees, allowing partial payments and offering to read meters, according to Newsday.
“To get this message on Thanksgiving was crass and classless. It’s just heartless,” Michael Hilferty, 29, an attorney from Long Beach told the New York Post. He got his bill via e-mail on Thanksgiving and despite being forced from his powerless home for weeks, his bill was a dollar more than the previous month.
LIPA spokesperson Elizabeth Flagler assured customers on Monday that the bills they were receiving would be adjusted next month when technicians are able to get actual meter readings, adding that the bills were “based on the estimated reading of (their) energy use from the same month the year before.”
Jonathan Saporta, who owns Jake's Wayback Burger, a Long Beach restaurant ravaged by Sandy, didn’t buy Flagler’s response.
“Even if they said they would rectify it — go out and do real readings — don't go taking more money out of our pocket when we already lost so much,” Saporta said in an interview with CNN.
“At this point, with a major disaster, with so many people losing so much of their livelihood, they can't go around to do estimated billing and hold all that money,” he said.
Electric bills were estimated following Hurricane Irene in 2011, according to Flagler
“This is a pretty much what I believe all utilities do in the event of natural disasters and storms,” she said.
LIPA was harshly criticized
last month when tens of thousands of its customers remained without power weeks after the storm hit.
One consequence was the resignation of the company’s chief operating officer, Michael Hervey
, a 12-year veteran of the power company who received much of the blame for the inability to restore power to customers.
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