Mind the meter

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To residents’ relief, Con Ed rectifies $108,000 steam overcharge


  • A faulty Con Edison steam meter led to massive overcharges and a subsequent refund at Gallery House, a condominium building at 77 West 55th St. Photo: Michael Garofalo


Residents of a midtown condo building recently found themselves on the receiving end of a deposit any New Yorker would welcome: a six-digit refund from Con Edison.

A hyperactive steam meter at Gallery House, a 183-unit building at West 55th Street and Sixth Avenue, led the utility to overcharge residents by more than $108,000 over a roughly two-and-a-half-month period.

The meter mishap came in the midst of a 14-month cooking gas outage in the building, during which much of the building’s piping was replaced and residents were relegated to heating food with hot plates and other electrical appliances. The steam issue started in May, just as Con Edison began work beneath the street outside to restore gas service.

“As they’re digging up the street, all of a sudden, ironically, our steam bill started getting exorbitant,” said Monica Keller Large, Gallery House’s property manager. Monthly bills normally in the neighborhood of $15,000 dollars rose drastically, in one case exceeding $70,000. “My natural reaction was that there must have been a disruption to steam service as they were digging for gas service.”

The two issues turned out to be unrelated. After some investigation, Con Edison identified a malfunctioning meter as the culprit and notified residents that restitution would be forthcoming.

“I almost fell of my chair” when the news of the $108,351.37 refund came through, Large said. Gas service was restored in June and residents won’t have to foot an eye-popping steam bill on top of unexpected expenses related to the gas pipe replacement.

“An adjustment to the meter had to be made and we corrected it,” Con Edison spokesman Alfonso Quiroz wrote in an emailed statement.

Large credited the office of Keith Powers, the local City Council representative, for serving as a liaison between residents and Con Edison and helping to push the gas restoration process along.

“The timeline of the bureaucracy involved in getting service restored can be very frustrating, and we try to help with that,” Powers said. He said he has encountered utility refunds from time to time during his time in government, including one to remedy a $50,000 monthly bill from Verizon, but that this was an exceptional case.

“I’ve never encountered a Con Edison one this big, and we’re happy that that’s the case because it means things are happening properly in general,” he said.

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