This is a real understatement of the problem. There is no reason for the mistakes since the actual account numbers immediately flag the nature of the account and automatic computer reviews, which were routinely done at the former LILCO, would have immediately highlighted the problems. As the recent Peconic Bay Apartments disclosure shows, there are at least hundreds of billing snafus out there and LIPA knows that. Time to fess up and take care of this customer insult rather than to minimize it through excuses. The problem is big and much broader than suggested!
Straighten out utility bills
Updated: July 26, 2011 7:31 PM
The Long Island Power Authority and National Grid maintain there is just a handful of misclassifications and that an information campaign is all that’s needed to uncover any more. Until there’s evidence of a much wider problem, that’s a more cost-effective approach than inspecting each property or auditing each account.
Both utilities are including notices in their monthly bills to guide homeowners — the group most likely to be unaware they were in the wrong category — to check their status. The utilities should make the commercial and residential rate designations CLEAR and PROMINENT on the bills.
LIPA says most of the errors involved homes that once had an ancillary business use such as a doctor’s office or a small shop. Two-family homes that were later converted to a single residence might still be on the books as commercial.
On the other hand, homeowners who have carved out a secondary apartment or rental space but are still working off just one gas or electric meter are considered a commercial establishment under state rules. As you may suspect, LIPA says there hasn’t been a rush of residential customers seeking to upgrade to the more expensive category.
If there were overcharges, the utilities should work with customers on a refund. These are simple mistakes that should be easily corrected.