Mayor apologizes over ‘handling’ of $108K penalty information

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Greenport Mayor David Nyce discussing the electric penalty fee Monday night’s regular village board meeting.
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Greenport Mayor David Nyce discussing details of the electric penalty fee during Monday night’s regular village board meeting.

Greenport Mayor David Nyce opened Monday night’s regular Village Board meeting with an explanation for village electric customers regarding unexpected charges in their December billing statements.

He also later apologizing for how customers were notified — or not notified — about the charge.

Ratepayers had complained last month after a “purchased power adjustment” line on their December electric bills had more than doubled (in some cases) from statements prior, and were told the increase was due to a one-time service charge to the village.

What was not publicly detailed at that time was that the charges to customers were to pay for a $108,000 penalty the village had incurred for missing a mandatory energy measurement test (known as a dependable maximum net capability test) for one of its generators, The Suffolk Times learned through the New York Power Authority (NYPA), a public benefit corporation, and village officials.

The Times reported its findings prior to Monday night’s meeting.

The test was required by The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), the state’s non-profit energy operator, village officials said.

Mr. Nyce said Monday night that the village “missed a DMNC test because of the ongoing capital program,” adding “the switchgear on generator number six didn’t run the day of the test.”

He als mentioned that, in trying to determine who was to blame for the penalty being incurred, “we went back through email trails trying to ascertain whether or not this was the entire fault of the village, the entire fault of the NYPA, or did the NYISO have some hand in this?”

“After further investigation with the New York Power Association, their information was less than forthcoming or helpful,” he continued. “There is no direct path for us to be able to put the entire blame on the NYPA because the test needs to be run. The fault the test was missed lies with the Village of Greenport. As such, that penalty was passed through to the village.”

He also said he was notified in August that the village would be assessed a penalty.

When later asked by a reporter why the public was not notified of the penalty last year, Mr. Nyce said, “They were. It was discussed at a village meeting last spring [after the test was missed]. We didn’t know what the amount was, but we did know there would be a penalty.“

When pressed by the reporter on why he wouldn’t disclose the information after the one-time hikes in December, Mr. Nyce said: “If my handling of how that got out was not to everyone’s liking, for that I apologize. I was hopeful to have those charges removed, to be able to prove that we were not at fault, but that did not happen.

“The bottom line is it is a pass-through from the NYISO to us through the NYPA and as such it was as described — a one-time service charge.”

Click below for Mr. Nyce’s full explanation to electric customers:

Two electric customers in attendance at Monday night’s meeting, including Mr. Swiskey, voiced concerns over who was at fault for the mechanical failure and the fee being incurred, and took issue with officials laying the blame on Mr. Naylor.

“It’s the five people who are sitting at that table, that’s whose fault it is,” said Mr. Swiskey, who is also a former Greenport Village utilities director as well as a village trustee. “I have been asking the last 18 months off and on, ‘I hear the power plant don’t run,’ and your reply was, ‘It runs fine.’ Well $108,000 out of the general public’s pocket says that wasn’t a true statement, was it?”

Resident John Saladino asked, “Why couldn’t we have found out…when you found out about it? I thought you could have been upfront about it.”

Mr. Nyce said, “It was a one time thing. It will not happen again.”

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Read more in the Jan. 30 edition of The Suffolk Times newspaper.