State orders $293,000 in refunds for Sea Cliff water customers

Source: Mark Harrington, Newsday, August 9, 2018

A state agency on Thursday ordered New York American Water to refund nearly $293,000 to Sea Cliff customers, as a Nassau County probe revealed that water bills issued by the company had spiked at two county parks. The developments come as American Water customers on Nassau’s North and South shores call for public takeover of their water supply after complaints of high bills and the Department of Public Service probe. There also are separate reviews of customer complaints by the Nassau district attorney’s office and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. The state Public Service Commission said it ordered the company to refund $292,804 to Sea Cliff district customers as a result of the company’s “gross mishandling” of its property tax filings. A state probe earlier this year found a $2.3 million tax overpayment by New York American Water resulted in $281,421 in overpayments by customers in the Sea Cliff district. According to the PSC, although the company paid the $2.3 million, the vast majority was never billed to customers. A second stage of the investigation found that certain company employees intentionally deceived state regulators during rate-hike proceedings in 2016. …

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Public Service Commission seeks court order against New York American Water
Source: Chau Lam, Newsday, July 12, 2018

The New York State Public Service Commission on Thursday asked its chief lawyer to get a court order directing New York American Water to follow all its regulations, including providing accurate information during rate-hike proceedings. The commission, which regulates the state’s utilities, called for judicial intervention to “help restore consumer confidence” after its report last month revealed that the water company’s employees intended to deceive state regulators in 2016 when the company requested — and regulators approved — its increase to customers’ water rates. The report said company employees were aware of “material errors” in tax calculations starting in 2013, but failed to disclose those errors to state regulators at the time the company was seeking approval for rate hikes. The errors led to customers in the Sea Cliff water district being overcharged, state officials found. … In December 2017, after state regulators had approved the company’s request to hike rates, the company’s senior management and legal counsel admitted the errors to the Department of Public Service, the investigative arm of the PSC. … Assemb. Michael Montesano (R-Glen Head), who has called for criminal investigations into the water company, said that with a court order, New York American would face harsher penalties if it violated state regulations in the future. …