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Homeowners unhappy with new ‘surprise bills’ from Eversource

News 8 Investigators

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)- Homeowners with crumbling foundation repairs are now getting slapped with “surprise bills” from Eversource.

Eversource is charging them to reactivate gas lines before moving back in, something Eversource did at no cost for years. The legislature set aside more than $100 million to help replace the hundreds – likely thousands – of homes in the northeast corner with crumbling foundations.

It costs into the hundreds-of-thousands of dollars to replace the concrete basements. Now, Eversource is getting into the game, demanding more than $1,600 before allowing the homeowners to move back in.

“It’s devastating. I feel a loss,” said Wendy Padula.

It’s a stressful time for Wendy Padula. Her home is about to have its crumbling foundation replaced. Her home is one of several on the same street in Vernon getting the work done simultaneously.

The Padula’s are being aided by a grant from the Connecticut Foundations Solutions Indemnity Company. They’re making up the difference by spending thousands of dollars out-of-pocket. They budgeted down to the dollar in order to make it work, then a surprise came in the mail.

“Two days before they were going to shut the gas service off and I get a letter from Eversource Gas saying we needed to pay $1,636 before they would turn the gas off. So it’s two days before and we need to send a check,” said Padula.

The Padulas, as well as at least two other neighbors, are being charged over $1,630 to have their gas lines shut off during construction. A letter from the energy company stipulates that it must be paid in full before any work is scheduled.

Don Childree has replaced over 80 foundations over the last 15 years. He says he’s never been charged to shut the gas line off or on.

“Why would you charge your customers that purchase gas from you to turn off their gas and then turn it back on for just this kind of construction?” said Childree.

Alex Ansaldi is working on a home around the corner from the Padulas’. He says with the cost of the job already agreed upon, it’s an expense they say they’ll cover now, but will need to include in the estimates in the future.

“Moving forward when we price this out, the homeowners will need to absorb it,” Ansaldi said. “We certainly sympathize with their situation. It’s a nightmare and we understand that.”

Eversource spokesman Mitch Gross says the crumbling foundation crisis is a unique situation for the company to deal with, and turning off or on gas lines are not as easy as flipping a switch.

“In this case we have to excavate, extensive excavation at each of these property location we have to raise the line, cap the gas and move the meter,” said Gross.

Gross says it’s about making sure the work is done safely and the company is now working with customers on different payment plans.

“We’ve heard from customers. We understand the situation. We’ve contacted them and are offering interest free payment plans that can spread the cost out over a year and hopefully that will reduce the financial stress their going through,” said Gross.

Eversource gas operates in five towns in northeast Connecticut: Vernon, Ellington, Enfield, South Windsor and Tolland. Homeowners have not reported being charged by any other gas company.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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