Many Long Island Power Authority customers have spent days and/or weeks without power after Superstorm Sandy tore through the region. It appears LIPA is now sending out regular estimated invoices, billing customers for the time they were without power.
The government-run Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) is feeling backlash after it billed numerous customers for the electricity outage time that occurred during Sandy. In many cases the power was down for several weeks.
According to Newsday (via News 12), LIPA uses an estimated billing system that projects the amount of electricity a customer will use. This system looks at the previous year's use during the same month and estimates the current bill based on previously consumed energy for that month. Often utility companies will read meters every other month.
"(The) next actual meter reading will reflect the amount of electricity (customers) have used since (their) previous actual meter reading, and it will automatically adjust ... charges," LIPA spokesperson Elizabeth Flagler told CNN on Monday.
While this is not an uncommon practice, as other utility companies in the New York region use a similar system, what has people furious is that in some cases, power has not even yet been restored. Or they are frustrated that they couldn't get a response from LIPA about their outage, but the company has no issues shipping out bills.
“I can’t get LIPA to acknowledge my existence on earth to talk to me about anything,” resident and business owner Jonathan Saporta told the New York Post. “But I guess they had power, so they could print my bills. Nice, right?”
Saporta reportedly received a $649 bill for the home in Long Beach that he left in October and a $281 bill for his new residence. He had moved Oct. 1. He also anticipates receiving a $1,700 bill for his Long Beach restaurant, Jake’s Wayback Burger, that is still sitting in the dark.
Another LIPA customer received his bill via email on Thanksgiving Day. Michael Hilferty's home was flooded and "inundated" with four feet of sand, reported the Post. His utility meters were reportedly buried.
“To get this message on Thanksgiving was crass and classless. It’s just heartless,” said Hilferty, who is still unable to return home and is staying in Connecticut.
News 12 reported LIPA customers can call 1-800-490-0025 to give an "actual meter reading" and possibly have their bill adjusted.
As of today, over 300 people are still dealing with electricity outages, according to the LIPA website.
Earlier this month, a class action lawsuit was initiated against LIPA.