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LIPA Customers Left Without Power For Weeks Sent Normal Electric Bills Despite Blackouts

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In this Oct. 31, 2012 file photo, a plea to the Long Island Power Authority for electricity to be restored is posted on a barrier in Mastic Beach, N.Y. The Long Island Power Authority on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012 announced that chief operating officer Michael Hervey had tendered his resignation, effective at the end of the year. | AP

Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) customers in some of Hurricane Sandy's hardest hit areas were frustrated to receive normal electric bills this cycle--despite suffering through weeks without power.

The New York Post reports that Long Island residents were slammed with high bills for time spent in the dark. Although Newsday reports the charges will even out after the next meter reading, The Post said customers they spoke to claimed their statements made no mention of potential refunds.

Restaurant owner Jonathan Saporta was hit with both a $649 bill for the Long Beach home he left in October and a $281 bill for his new Great Neck home.

“I can’t get LIPA to acknowledge my existence on earth to talk to me about anything,” he told The Post. “But I guess they had power, so they could print my bills. Nice, right?”

This is only the latest publicity gaffe for the company, which took several weeks to restore power to many of its customers.

LIPA Chief Operating Officer Mike Hervey resigned in mid-November after harsh criticism was leveled over his company's handling of the superstorm, according to Reuters. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an investigation into the state's utilities the same day as Hervey's resignation.

And then came news that a class action lawsuit would be filed against the company and its partner National Grid.

According to Bloomberg, two customers accuse LIPA of failing to provide electric services because of its “disregard” in management and maintenance of equipment, facilities and personnel and its “failure to replace an outdated, obsolete outage management system which lacks the ability to manage large-scale outages."

For his part, Saporta said he will be fighting LIPA's "criminal" bills.

"They can put me into collections," Saporta said, "and I'll fight them tooth-and-nail."

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