Monday, March 15, 2010

Are Electricity Charges At Roosevelt Island's Manhattan Park Correct? Ask Roosevelt Island Google Groups-They Help Residents Organize & Solve Problems

Understanding Your Con Ed Electricity Bill from NY Times

A resident of Roosevelt Island's Manhattan Park (MPR) was unhappy with recent large electricity bills received and asked the Manhattan Park Google Group:
I would like to know if anyone has been experiencing high utility costs for the months of January and February. I had a bill of $324 for January stating I used 1967 kwh, for a 1 bedroom apartment! My bill was $224 in February. Exactly $100 less, and my bill came to me a day late. Maybe because I am currently in a battle with Management regarding this issue?

I have not seen any recent posts, but I can see it's been a problem since 2008. I had drafts coming in around my heating registers that needed to be insulated, and it took Maintenance a month to get around to taking care of it. I was told I was still accountable for the high usage by Management. Even though Maintenance did not show up when they said they were going to, never returned any of my calls, etc. They finally picked up the phone when I was leaving a voice mail for Management stating that Maintenance was avoiding me, and I wasn't going to be paying my utility charges. I have sent an email documenting what has been going on to Management. I also informed Management that they need to educate the leasing agents on the actual cost for the charges, since I was told the average was $90- $110/mo.

I asked to have Management reply to my email in writing so I could discuss this with my attorney, and if I did not receive it by April 1st, I would withhold my payment for the utilities. Of course I have not received a written response. And from what I am finding, Con Ed, 311, the NY State Public Service Commission cannot help me, because I need to have something in writing from Management.

They know how to play this game quite well obviously. And it is a known fact that large property managers that sub-meter utilities within their buildings are constantly getting into trouble for false information provided to tenants, in order for them to have financial gain. I am currently working on filing a complaint with the Attorney General. Does anybody know if we have a representative at Manhattan Park that is on the Common Council RIRA? If Manhattan Park is supposed to be receiving such great rates by buying their utilities in bulk, why are the tenant charges so extreme?
In response to a reader who responded that the increased electricity charges were similar to others at this time last year and just a normal reflections of cold, winter months, the MPR explained:
I have been living in NY for 4 years, this winter was no worse than any other. The temperature only dropped below freezing a few days out of the season. I'm from Cleveland originally, I know what freezing weather is like. Everyone else that I have spoken to that lives in Manhattan thinks this is a completely outrageous charge for
electricity. There is something wrong with my bill, because I was out of town with everything shut off for 9 days and still had a $224 bill. Did you pay $324 for your bill in January? Until I see something in writing, or my actual meter reading I can't accept this is a normal charge. Con Ed even told me this charge was high. Previous tenants that lived in this exact building only paid $60 for their heat when they were living there. We're being ripped off...
A former Manhattan Park resident (FMPR) chimed in:
There's also the issue that your unit is also probably facing manhattan. You don't get sunlight to help heat your unit during the day.

If you notice, your summer bills are much lower than the people that are facing queens, because they get much more sunlight, they have to cool more.

Turn off your heaters when you are not home, that should help a bit.

I had the same exact issue during winter before I moved out. I installed my own temporary meter to compare against what i was being billed and it was right on the money.

The electric usage is high because the building has poor insulation, the heating is electric and you are not getting enough sunlight.

What you can request is to have an independent consultant to install a meter inside your unit and compare to your bill.
MPR replied:
Thank you, I do already turn my heat off all day. And only run it in my BR on low at night. I unplug everything as well. I guess I'll have to get a meter installed.
Followed by FMPR:
That's what I did because I refused to believe the charges.

I did the test myself as well so I could control everything.

The results confirmed my fears that everything was OK. Needless to say I was not happy at all. But the data didn't lie.

After I put all variables in, i figured out the high usage. Insulation and sunlight. This building was made 15-20 years ago for the purpose of renting, the developer most probably took advantage of incentives to build in Roosevelt Island and didn't insulate enough.

To balance that, they installed electric heat, so they didn't have to be responsible for heating. I used to live in manhattan for many years and the heat in those buildings is primarily oil based, which means that builders spend more on insulation so as to reduce heating costs.

Put a meter inside your apartment and verify the readings. I can recommend a company that can do these tests for a fee if you want (not associated with me at all. I work in retail).

Cheers and good luck
A Manhattan Park Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) representative added:
My husband and I both live in 10 River Road and are current RIRA representatives.

The electricity charges in both our buildings and "Roosevelt Landings" have been brought up at RIRA before, but unfortunately the electric issues are building specific and are generally referred back to the private management companies. Because we don't have an organized tenants' association (management opposes the organization of one), we have no real way to oppose these things together.

I would say that $100 is about the average electric bill for 1brs in Manhattan Park. We live in a north facing 1br unit and pay $35-40 a month - BUT we do not use the heat or ac. In the winter we bundle up and in the summer we run fans in the windows. Your usage will be lower if you only turn your heat on long enough to warm up the bedroom and then turn it off when you go to sleep.

Your first step would be to, as another tenant suggested, get a second opinion on your usage. You may want to ask maintenance to come up and make sure your heating unit is working properly, and if you have a number of old appliances (ie the original fridge, microwave and dishwasher) you may be using more electricity than other tenants - we had our fridge replaced by complaining that the ice maker didn't work.

Feel free to email me if you have any other questions or issues you would like to be raised at RIRA meetings.
MPR closes with:
Thank you all for your feedback. Much appreciated.
This was an excellent example of online Google Groups assisting Roosevelt Island residents to communicate with each other in order to solve, or at least gain additional information, on specific buildings issues or problems. In addition to Manhattan Park Google Groups, similar groups are available for residents of other Roosevelt Island buildings. More information on these groups available at:
Registration is required to join these groups and is only open to residents of the particular building.


Anonymous said...

Our bills have been on par with previous years more or less. Around $300 for 2 bedrooms with children, i.e. all rooms are usually heated at night and two of them during the day more or less. The heating units are so inefficient that we will get space heaters for the next winter season.

Speaking of electricity charges, though. A year back or so Manhattan Park management sent out lease riders that talked about independent investigators or some such in case of electricity billing disputes. There was no deadline whatsoever attached to it and we never signed or turned it back in. Nobody ever got back to us asking for it. Does anybody, especially somebody at Manhattan Park, know what this is/was all about?

Anonymous said...

I live in 1B in MP and our bills were very high in 2008 and early 2009. After residents complained and threatened a lawsuit, they dropped significantly. Now they started rising again and we had to pay almost 200 for February.

We never use a/c at night and hardly use a/c during the day, so i don't believe we spent that much electricity. We use a/c more in summer than in winter, yet our bill for July 2009 was $40, so could we spend almost 200 in February???

Does someone know how to have a meter installed?

I lived in a foreign country and there every apartment has its own meter for electricity and water. You can actually see meter running during use. It's great because you only pay for what you spend and it encourages efficient use.

Anonymous said...

5:09pm - I just checked our bill and we paid $250 for electricity in a 2-flex, facing Manhattan, high floor. It's been pretty much like that for all the years we've been living in Manhattan Park (same apartment). While I agree that it is high I do blame the inefficient heating units and the lack of insulation (our windows with their metal frames let a lot of cold into the rooms) and not necessarily management.

Trevre said...

Right on, our bill for a 10 River Rd Manhattan facing 2 bedroom has been over 300 for the last few months. A little surprising, but not sure of the exact reason. We will see when spring comes what happens to the bill I guess.