Massena trustee calls on Liberty Utilities to improve billing
North Country This Week
MASSENA — A trustee on the Massena Village Board is calling on Liberty Utilities to improve it’s billing services and practices.
Trustee Francis Carvel was critical of Liberty’s billing practices, saying the accuracy of billing and rates charged will put a strain on many customers as winter approaches.“I feel for a lot of the older members of the community,” Carvel said during the board’s Nov. 15 meeting.
According to Carvel, in many months that his own bills would be $25-35 he was billed over $90 in many cases.
Trustees suggested that Liberty may be billing with estimates every other month, leading to the seemingly higher bills.
Carvel said many residents on fixed incomes who are budgeting for their bills can’t afford to have surprises such as a higher utility bill, especially with rates expected to rise even further with winter.
According to a press release on Liberty’s website, customers should expect an average increase in their gas bills during th 2022/23 winter season.
“Last winter, an average Liberty residential customer in New York who uses natural gas for heating would have paid approximately $900.35 during the five-month winter heating period (NovemberMarch), which breaks down to approximately $180.07/month. For the 2022-2023 heating season, Liberty is forecasting that same ratepayer will pay approximately $1,048.80, or $209.76 per month. That is the equivalent to an average monthly increase of $29.69 over the heating season,” the press release states.
“Maybe they can do actual meter reads more often. I’m quite sure they only do them every other month,” Trustee Christine Winston said.
Issues with bill services and customer service were also mentioned, with Carvel saying Liberty has struggled in recent years to maintain a high level of customer service.
“It seems like every time they are bought and sold things change and the customer service struggles,” Carvel said.
Though the village board have called on Liberty to sort through the issues, no action is guaranteed due to Liberty being a private entity.
Liberty Utility customers can reach the customer service department by calling 1 (800) 454-2201 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.