Millie and Harold Mendelson want to move from their Pound Ridge home of 25 years because they say electric current flowing all around their property is causing health problems and making their home uninhabitable.
They're seeking $2.3 million in damages—the cost of their home and the wooded six acres on which it's situated—from NYSEG because they say the company has failed to protect them from stray voltage coming from a substation located about 100 yards behind their home, according to a documents filed in state supreme court on Aug. 31.
At a press conference Monday, the couple appealed to state lawmakers to put pressure on the utility company. Sen. Greg Ball (R-Patterson) attended the event at their home, located at 70 Salem Road, where they detailed the affects of the electric currents on their lives.
"My wife and I have had migraines, I have had muscle spasms where my face just collapsed, and I have had vertigo where I stand up and everything is just spinning," said Dr. Harold Mendelson, 76, a psychiatrist who said he's now under the care of neurologist.
Millie Mendelson, 66, said she wears rubber-soled shoes around the house and in the shower because she's afraid of being shocked when she turns on the water. "I have been thrown back from the sink because of shocks I've received after touching the water," she said.
The Mendelsons also claim NYSEG falsified over a decade of maintenance reports on the "neutreal isolators"—voltage blockers—that were installed after they brought their first lawsuit against the company in 1991, according to reports.
The settlement agreement included an alarm system to alert them to stray volts. A few years ago, they said Monday, the alarm system began going off 50 to 70 times a day, before it abruptly shut down in March of this year.
"That's not even human," said Millie Mendelson. "That's the only warning we have that there is stray voltage and we have to get out of a tub or a shower."
Representatives from NYSEG said due to the lawsuit, they could only offer limited comment.
"The safety of our customers and employees is of paramount importance to us, and we comply with the New York State Public Service Commission’s rigorous stray voltage testing and repair requirements. Because this particular situation is now in litigation, we have no further comment," said Clayton Ellis, manager of corporate communications, in a statement to Patch.
The Mendelsons were joined at the press conference by a neighbor, Joann Walsh, also a Pound Ridge resident of 25 years. She said once the Mendelsons went public with their complaints against NYSEG, she decided to voice her own issues with the utility.
"I've had incredibly high electric bills for the entire time I've lived here," said Walsh, who lives about a mile north on Salem Road.
She told Patch that her family tried to use as little electricity as possible over the years because of their bills, which typically reached over $300 per month. She said repeated attempts to identify the problem never solved the issues to her satisfaction. This year, her bills have been so irregular that she suspected larger issues were at play: In January, her electric bill was $600; in Feburary, $360 and last month, just $58. She brought copies to the conference.
"I've always been told 'you're doing something.' If I am, I'd love to know what it is. NYSEG if you're listening, I'd love some answers," she said.
For more on the Mendelson's and Walsh's statements, watch the video clips posted with this story.
Sen. Greg Ball, who hosted the conference at the Mendelson's home, said from this day forward, the company needed to be put on notice that they would be held accountable.
"It's a small group that is being affected," he said. "But that shouldn't change the response. NYSEG has to come up with an immediate response to this, to test the property, to put the alarms back on and to make sure that all of these concerns are addresed."
Check back with Patch tomorrow for additional information on this story.