Friday, October 26, 2007

Williamsburg Loft Tenants Get $35,000 & $65,000 Con Ed Bills

Con Ed Bill

What would it be like if you got a Con Ed bill for, say, $65,000 or perhaps $35,000? Apparently, this is what happened to two loft tenants at a building at 300 Morgan Avenue in East Williamsburg. We got an email from Frank Shifreen, the artist that Carroll Gardens blogger Pardon Me for Asking posted about recently, who once put on an art exhibition at the Public Place site in Gowanus. Mr. Shifreen relates a story about unmetered apartments and monstrous Con Ed bills that arrived recently. Here are some relevant parts of the email:
My artist friends have lived at 300 Morgan Ave. for many years. They are grandfathered as loft tenants...The building is a mixed residential loft and factory loft building covering almost an entire block--Morgan on one side, Metropolitan on one, Grand on the other. Con Ed found out that there were no meters in the building no meters except of the businesses...

All of the tenants including high power industrial tenants had no meters. I have had lofts for many years and am a landlord also. Getting away with no meter is something I have never heard of. When one of the tenants inquired, they said that con ed replied there was no record of 300 morgan ave. Con Ed somehow rediscovered the building and as far as I know the landlord was not given any penalties or fines or put in jail. Something stinks of course--there must have been bribery, something.

Con Ed had the landlord put meters in [and] after several months billed the tenants for past use. My artist friends Mike and Sherry Rader, for instance, who also run a gallery called Tastes Like Chicken from their studio, received a bill for $65,000. Other tenants received bills smaller but still around $35K.

This is a travesty. The tenants did not have access to the basement or areas where meters would have been. I believe all assumed that utilities were being covered by landlord.
It's definitely one of the more interesting stories we've come across in a while and, assuming the details are accurate, one of the nastier stories about the mess a tenant can find himself or herself in through no fault of their own. And we thought our Con Ed bill sucks.

(NOTE: That is not the actual Con Ed bill, nor was it intended to be the actual bill.)



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey I work for CE and the story doesn't sound legit. Firstly, if the lofts didn't have meters, obviously the only "part supplied" was the "ENT" or entirety meter that is under control by the landlord. This is usually just one "demand" meter that supplies the entire building.

Secondly, if the buildings were running that long on one meter, it would have been impossible to "meter" all those units unless a licensed electrician wired each unit and connected meter pans to them. This would interrupt the power for a day or so until Con Ed could come out and install the meter(s).

Obviously, the tenants would have been given notice and those bills wouldn't have been any surprise. Also, once the meter is installed, you have to apply for service; there is no surprise bills with your name being mailed to you unless you called for service.

Finally, if indeed they got bamboozled somehow, they can definitely appeal those bills. Also a call to the Public Service Commission wouldn't hurt. They can give step on how to proceed and are usually very customer friendly.

8:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as I understand Brooklyn - Morgan Avenue is not Williamsburg, or "East Williamsburg" (as no such place exists). The Outer east edge of Williamsburg stops somehwere between Humboldt and Bushwick Avenues.

As for Con Edison, they need the $$ - just pay the bill.

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Red Hook said...

Good to hear from someone at CE, but I want to give this perspective:

My electric bill was always about the same amount each month. Suddenly, it jumped up about six months ago for no apparent reason. Not just the price, but my usage. I called ConEd and asked for the meter to be checked.

Well, I never realized that ConEd claims to look at every meter, individually, each month. I always thought it was somehow electronically or mechanically monitored ... or something. How could they check every meter for every apartment... every month? That sounds crazy.

I believe it is and they fudge the numbers quite a bit. After I complained, they told me, yes, I was using less electricity. And then my bill showed up and now suddenly some of the months were marked "estimated." And now my new bill each month is the same new lower price!

Yay, I guess. But fishy, very fishy?

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's bill has been altered. First, the kilowatt usage does not match the charges. Second, it is pretty clear that someone scanned the bill and replaced the total charges (the font, clarity and darkness is different than the rest of the bill). Why is this even on here?????

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The image was a joke, jackass. It wasn't supposed to be a real bill from the people in W'burg. They just wanted to have an image for the story.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

another sensationalist story about injustice served up over in wburg by our good forthright friends at GL, who never fail to pass along any whisper that might advance their anti-developing brooklyn agenda. this is a non-story and obviously a gross error, as the con ed guy stated. shame on GL for not checking the feasibility of this but that's standard operating procedure, just haphazardly posting whatever.

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:25 - from what i know, when coned is unable to read your meter [which is usually the case month to month, since most meters are in building basements or in the back of buildings...that and coned usually comes when most people are at work], they send you an "estimated" bill with what your usage should be, in comparison to previous months and other tenant's usage.

when they are finally able to read your meter, they will then send you an actual bill, with your real usage for all the months they were unable to read it...this usually results in a much larger bill, since they seem to underestimate usage.

that being said, if you have access to your meters, you can read them yourself and submit the numbers to coned, online or over the phone. then they'll send you an actual bill. there are instructions on how to do it on their website.

hope that helps!

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Red Hook said...

Well, just want to clarify that my bills always had "actual" numbers every month. As soon as I complained, some of the months became "estimated."

In my opinion, many "actual" numbers are... actually... estimated.

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "East Williamsburg" industrial park is an area designated by the city zoning board.
Morgan Avenue runs from Greenpoint to the East Williamsburg Industrial Park.

11:53 PM  

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