Friday, June 06, 2008

White Plains Landlord Submetering Electricity Without PSC Approval

Riverstone Residential Group, by its own account “the nation's largest independently owned real estate management firm,” is charging tenants for natural gas service based on the total amount of gas consumed at the building and the square footage of the tenants' apartments, together with a monthly administrative charge. PULP is representing a White Plains, NY tenant who claims this is in violation of N.Y. Pub. Serv. Law §§ 66 (14) and 65 (6). See Landlords Charging Tenants for Utility Service? The tenant's petition to the PSC is pending.

In the course of PULP’s investigation of the landlord’s resale to tenants of natural gas it was discovered that the landlord has also been submetering electricity to its 311 apartments without Public Service Commission approval. PSC regulations and utility tariffs prohibit submetering of electricity unless a specific order of the PSC has authorized it.

On April 11, 2008, Riverstone Residential filed a petition with the PSC, belatedly seeking approval to continue submetering, conceding that it never received approval to submeter electricity at One City Place. In the petition, Riverstone characterized its reselling of electricity without PSC permission for the past 3 ½ years as an "administrative oversight."PULP assisted the tenant to intervene in the proceeding and to file comments with the PSC on Riverstone Residential’s petition.

The comments note that Riverstone’s failure to obtain submetering approval may have placed Con Edison in the position of violating Commission regulations and its own tariff, which prohibit the utility from supplying electricity for submetering purposes without Commission approval, and exposes both Con Edison and Riverstone Residential to fines under PSL § 25(2).

The tenant-intervenor asked the Commission to follow its February 22, 2008 precedent in Petition of Solow Management Corp, where the Commission approved an “after-the-fact” submetering application only upon the condition that the submeterer refund to its tenants all of the money it had charged them for submetered electricity during the period when it did not have Commission approval to submeter.

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