In a letter sent to Con Edison Chairman Kevin Burke, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio today launched an investigation of consumer complaints resulting from Con-Ed’s ongoing lockout of 8,500 workers. De Blasio cited reports of skyrocketing ‘estimated’ electricity bills, a consequence of short-staffing at the utility.
Read Public Advocate de Blasio’s letter to Con Edison below:
Chairman, President, and CEO
4 Irving Place
New York, NY 10003
Dear Mr. Burke,
In a letter addressed to your office on July 20, 2012, I raised a number of concerns over the impact of the lockout on consumer services and public safety. Con Ed dismissed those concerns, assuring me that the lockout would not jeopardize service delivery.
Your response obscures reality. An article in this morning’s New York Post (“Guess watt – Con Ed bills bigger”) provides further evidence of the serious damage this lockout is having on New Yorkers, including a disturbing trend of over-billing due to estimated meter readings. Many New Yorkers have reported grossly inflated electricity charges, some of which may be inconsistent with hot-weather increases in consumption. This inconsistency was especially evident when New Yorkers reported receiving bills two to three times higher than the previous month. These overcharges, resulting from estimated bills, are avoidable, unnecessary, and financially burdensome to customers across the city.
I reiterate my concern that these service reductions have a particularly acute impact on low-income residents who have may limited resources to shoulder spikes in their estimated bills. The closure of walk-in centers only further aggravates this problem, as people have few options to seek resolution on complaints with their estimated bills.
In the coming days, my office will be pursuing an investigation of consumer complaints resulting from estimated meter readings and other problems that are a result of the lockout.
These estimated bills and their attendant high financial burden for residents are clearly just one manifestation of the impact this lockout is having on service delivery. Enough is enough: it’s far past time to pursue good faith negotiations and bring experienced employees back to work.
Bill de Blasio
Public Advocate for the City of New York