OCEANSIDE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Electric bills are out for Sandy victims on Long Island and they are causing a stir.
Those bills are bringing yet another round of pain for people whose utilities were flooded in the hurricane.
Ray Gunther of Oceanside said he has to run space heaters and electric baseboard heat to keep warm and keep the pipes from freezing. He had no idea his bill would be four times higher than normal.
“It was around $800,” Gunther told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff. “I was beside myself.”
Gunther said the bill normally comes to about $200.
“I kind of feel defeated,” said Gunther. “I feel like everything I try to do or try to get going, I can’t do it.”
Similar complaints are filling up Facebook pages. One LIPA customer’s bill was $1,000 while another was $849 for one month.
“You have four space heaters in your house — one for your kids, one for your pipes so they won’t freeze, one in the living space if you have living space,” said Island Park resident Tommy Asher.
Turns out the STEP (Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power) program that rescued Sandy victims with quick fixes installed the only option — electric heaters.
Sandy victims are being given a reduced rate, but bills are still a jolt.
“We cannot even come up with more money to fix our houses. Now, we have to come up with more money to pay this bill,” said Barbra Rubin-Perry of Island Park.
Nassau County administered the STEP program through FEMA and it was hailed by homeowners.
County Officials said they’re working with LIPA and the state to try come up with energy grants or a lower rate for Sandy victims who simply cannot afford another crippling expense.
“This is more than I can afford. I don’t have this kind of money,” Rubin-Perry said.
LIPA officials said STEP customers are on the best possible allowable rate and the bills are a reflection of consumption.
Officials from the utility also said they are certainly willing to work with customers on payment options that may be more affordable.
Have you been hit with a high LIPA bill? Let us know in the comments section below…