After revelations, Greenport mayor to explain December jump in electric bills

01/27/2014 1:14 PM |

CYNDI MURRAY FILE PHOTO | Mayor David Nyce is expected to explain the penalty charge the village incurred over the summer during Monday night’s meeting.

Greenport Mayor David Nyce is expected to explain Monday night some details of the abnormally high electric bills village residents received just prior to the Christmas holiday.

Residents had complained last month after a “purchased power adjustment” line on their electric bills more than doubled in some cases from prior bills.

At the time, Mr. Nyce said only that the charges to residents came as the result of an “Independent Service Operator charge” that the village had to pay, according an article in The Suffolk Times.

What he didn’t explain, was the “charge” was actually the village being hit with a $108,000 penalty over issues with its generator, The Suffolk Times has learned through the New York Power Authority, a public benefit corporation, and village officials.

The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), the state’s non-profit energy operator, penalized the village for failing to complete a test of its electric generator over the summer, Village Trustee George Hubbard, who also serves as deputy mayor, said Monday.

The tests are routinely conducted by NYISO to ensure Greenport’s electric plant is capable of producing the necessary amount of power to sustain the village’s needs, he said.

The reason for the missed test was due to upgrades being made to the electric plant, Mr. Hubbard said.

“We thought we had a waiver,” he said, adding he and others thought the village would have another opportunity to make up the missed test. “[Over the summer] we were told at the time we got a postponement and it wasn’t due to be done until January or February of this year. It turns out we were misinformed. Our director of utilities at the time [Jack Naylor, who has since resigned] said we were all good.”

Mr. Hubbard said the one-time charges to customers last month allowed the village recover the cost of the $108,000 penalty.

Several Village Hall officials reached in December were unable to explain the increase.

When asked if there was a reason residents weren’t informed about the additional charges seen on the bills they received in December, Mr. Nyce said: “Nope.”

It seems at least two village officials were unaware about the penalty altogether, according to documents obtained by The Suffolk Times through a village resident and verified by NYPA, a public benefit corporation that works closely with NYISO to provide power throughout state.

In an email to NYPA  dated Nov. 13, village account clerk Stephen Gaffga questioned the “extraordinarily high” NYISO charge that came in September.

“Both I and Robert Brandt the deputy treasurer have attempted to contact the billing specialist … but have not been responded to,” he wrote. “I have never seen this charge approach that number in 4 years.

“I was hoping to have some clarification on these charges so that we may better serve our customers when they receive their bills.”

In an emailed response, NYPA account executive Jerry McLoughin stated:

“The additional charges were related to the $108,00o shortfall penalty that the mayor was advised of when he was here in our offices in September.”

Mr. Gaffga could not be immediately reached for comment.

The mayor is expected to address the matter at tonight’s Village Board meeting, said both Mr. Nyce and Mr. Hubbard.

Mr. Nyce declined further comment Monday.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the Third Street fire station in Greenport.

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