Town billed for lights it didn’t have and bulbs it wasn’t using

Audit: PSEG Overbilled East Hampton By $80,000

The Town of East Hampton has, for the past couple of years, been overpaying PSEG for power to light its streets by over $1500 per month, it was revealed last week during the East Hampton Town Board’s work session, held at the Montauk Fire Department headquarters. The town stands to get a refund of about $80,000, based upon an audit of the town’s street lights by Severo Kristofich.

“It took me seven weeks,” he told the board about the audit.

Kristofich, who is normally a crew leader for the town’s buildings and grounds department, took on the assignment because of his familiarity with Geographic Information Systems mapping. He has recently been working on GIS mapping the town’s garbage truck routes.

Kristofich started the survey of the town’s lights after Barry Bennett, East Hampton Town’s electrical supervisor, noticed a discrepancy between the number of street lamps the town believes it has and the number PSEG was billing for. “PSEG had us down for 883 lights, and Barry found 764, which is a difference of about 115,” Kristofich said. Not only was the town being charged for lights it did not have, Kristofich’s audit revealed that the town was being billed for bulbs using much more wattage than what is actually in place.

The difference per bulb was significant, he said. For example, the electric company assumed that many of the lamps in town were using 400-watt bulbs. In fact, Kristofich explained, 250 is the maximum wattage used by the town, with many lamps carrying only 75 watts. A 400-watt bulb costs $23.70 to run per month. A 75-watt bulb? Only 46 cents. The total PSEG was overbilling the town per month was $1577.03, or $18,924.26 per year. Retroactively, the town is now anticipating an $80,000 refund. PSEG has already presented the town with a credit memo for the refund.

After giving the board the good news about the town’s electric bill, Kristofich touted the value of GIS mapping. It can save the town time and money, he said. Also, invaluable knowledge that one town employee might have can be shared with all the town’s agencies. For example, an employee of the highway department might know where every drain is along a certain stretch of road. The day that employee retires, that knowledge disappears. But, with GIS mapping, that knowledge can be permanently saved and shared.

t.e@indyeastend.com