LIPA mulls change to help some business owners

LIPA is considering a move that could help hundreds of business owners pay less on their utility bills.

Jamie Hirsch, the owner of a Bohemia frame-manufacturing company, says LIPA has categorized his business in a way that has him paying a higher rate than he thinks he should be. He and other business owners hope LIPA will change a rule that prevents the utility from changing categories for customers.

"That's the fair thing to do, of course" says Hirsch. "They should do that immediately, but they also should be refunding the people immediately who have been charged. I understand that they're probably going to give everyone a hard time about that."

Hirsch is billed on what is called rate 285, which is intended for larger business customers using a specific amount of kilowatt hours. There is another category for customers that use less power - rate 281.

PSEG Long Island, which manages the Island's electric grid, says more than 600 customers could be in the wrong rate category.

Some school districts are also fighting for a rate-category change, including Smithtown.

PSEG Long Island issued a statement saying that if the changes are approved, it would "immediately analyze again all of the accounts that are classified under rate code 285 and will ensure that every commercial customer account has the opportunity to be placed on the recommended rate classification."

The LIPA board is expected to discuss the rate review during its Aug. 7 meeting.

As for Hirsch's company, PSEG Long Island claims it was not mis-classified. However, a spokesman says that the current usage does not meet the requirements for rate code 285. If the changes are approved, the company's rate code could be switched.

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