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Sandy-Ravaged Brighton Beach Residents Hit With Huge Electric Bills For Space Heaters

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The community of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, was devastated by Superstorm Sandy, and now residents who still have no heat are seeing astronomical electric bills as they run space heaters during this bitter winter.

After Sandy, the building at 601 Brightwater Court had no heat. Once the power was restored, the city gave out electric space heaters, so residents such as Pavel Gertsman and his wife could be warm.

Sandy-Ravaged Brighton Beach Residents Hit With Huge Electric Bills For Space Heaters

He was grateful for that, but Gertsman recently got a whopping electric bill – about $150 higher than his average monthly bill. They are senior citizens, and do not have a lot of extra money.

"I am 84 years old; my wife 81 years," he said.

Community leader Yelena Makhnin, who interpreted, said the extra $150 is a major burden.

"They're on a fixed income with $1,100 family, and the difference in $150, it makes those people choose between food and Con Edison bills," Makhnin said.

She said the Gertsmans have health problems and cannot afford the huge bill.

Con Ed spokesman Bob McGee said the utility is forbidden by law from reducing the Gertsman's bill.

But McGee suggested that the Gertsmans and any other person unable to pay a utility bill because of Sandy reach out to any number of non-profit organizations such as the Red Cross.

McGee said the city's Human Resources Administration also has home energy assistance programs that are federally funded. Lastly, if all that fails, Con Ed can put a customer on a payment plan to spread the bill out over time so it is more manageable.

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