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Grid to again waive charges for some Sandy-affected homes

Contracted workers working for National Grid trim trees

Contracted workers working for National Grid trim trees so LIPA can access power lines on Bayville Road in Locust Valley area Friday after the area was hit by superstorm Sandy. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

National Grid said Thursday that it will again begin waiving gas service disconnection and reconnection charges for homes affected by superstorm Sandy that must be elevated.

Suspension of the fee will continue through March 2016, the company said in a statement.

The move came amid heightened political pressure on the gas company after a story in Newsday last month reported that National Grid had reinstituted the charges. Assemb. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) had written a letter to National Grid urging the company to continue waiving the fee, saying homeowners were already hard-hit by costs from the storm.

The company said it will waive the fees, which amount to $1,400 or more, for customers who were the original homeowners at the time the storm hit in October 2012. Homes must also have been in a designated flood zone affected by Sandy.

The company had waived the fee for more than two years but reinstituted it in June.

Not everyone is happy just yet. Emma Willi of Island Park said she and her husband, Richard, paid over $2,300 for gas service to be reconnected to their home this summer at a time when the fee was no longer waived.

She said she'll be calling National Grid for a refund.

"I don't think they ever should have charged us," she said. "But we paid it because we want to get back to our home. Otherwise they would have done nothing."

Another customer, Mike Kogel of Amity Harbor, said he was forced to pay $1,878.78 in connection fees for work that had been delayed until his check was received and cleared an office in Syracuse. "It's progressing now, but not without a lot of wasted time and effort," he said. Told that the fees were again being waived, he said, "That's wonderful if they give the money back. We could use it."

National Grid spokeswoman Wendy Ladd said the company will give refunds to those who paid the fee in the interim. Halie Meyers, a spokeswoman for Kaminsky, said homeowners would have to request a refund to receive one.

In a statement, Mike Ruiz, director of community and customer management at National Grid, said, "We wanted to do everything we could to continue assisting customers that owned their home when Sandy hit, and who are just now in the process of rebuilding their homes after receiving New York Rising and Build It Back grants."

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