East Patchogue Couple Fighting Power Authority Over Charges

EAST PATCHOGUE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — What would you do if you got a ridiculously high electric bill? Call and complain, right?

Well, one Suffolk County couple did just that — and then paid the sky-high bill for a decade.

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Now they have found the fault was the Long Island Power Authority’s, but, as CBS 2’s Magee Hickey reports, they’re not necessarily getting a full refund.

“I don’t know what this means. Most people don’t know what this means,” Elizabeth Rizzo said.

For 10 years, Rizzo had been trying to understand why her LIPA electric bills on her new East Patchogue home were so astronomical.

“My response was they have to be crazy. We’re never home all day. It’s just the two of us. How can we have a $795 electric bill for one month?” Rizzo said.

Rizzo, a retired English teacher, said she kept calling LIPA customer representatives to complain.

“I was told you’re using too much electricity. Several times they came to check the meter,” Rizzo said.

But it wasn’t until last year that LIPA figured out the overbilling mistake, that the Rizzo home was listed as commercial — not residential — since it had been used as the model home in their development before they bought it.

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“Why would I even think this was a commercial account? I just looked at front of bill and paid it,” Rizzo said.

But LIPA officials said the Rizzos are partly to blame because they never looked at the back side of their bill. LIPA decided to give them only a partial refund for two years overbilling while an investigation continues.

“I can understand where the Rizzos are coming from, but that’s why we’re following the process,” LIPA spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said.

So the lesson to take away from all this is read your bill very carefully. If you’re a LIPA customer, look on the back and make sure you are residential and not commercial class.

“The LIPA bills are so difficult to understand that you have no recourse when you talk to them. How are you going to argue something you clearly don’t understand?” Rizzo said.

LIPA wouldn’t say when they’ll decide if the Rizzos get a full refund. At least one local lawmaker said it’s “ridiculous” that the Rizzos haven’t gotten all their money back by now.

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