By Sabina Mollot
Language in leases signed by Stuyvesant Town residents indicates that the owner has plans to submeter Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, which would make individual tenants responsible for paying for the electricity they use.
However, according to StuyTown Property Services, there is no plan to submeter the property any time soon.
The issue came up this week after a resident pointed out the language on Facebook and wondered if this meant Blackstone intended for file an application with the Public Service Commission (PSC) to have the property submetered.
In response, a property spokesperson, Marynia Kruk, told us, “The Facebook post (on the ST-PCV Tenants Association’s page) is accurate in that our current lease does have a clause about submetering or direct metering. However, this is not new language. New leases have contained the same language since 2009. Ownership has no current plan for submetering.”
Meanwhile, if Blackstone does eventually decide to submeter, it would be the second attempt by a Stuy Town owner to pass on the costs to renters. Tishman Speyer had planned to do this but then abruptly dropped the project upon losing the Roberts v. Tishman Speyer lawsuit at the Appellate Court level.
Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg noted that should the new landlord decided to submeter at some point, there is a process that involves community input; it’s not automatically approved by the PSC. She’s been aware of the language since it appears in a sample lease she’s had since CWCapital owned the property.
“This language has probably been around since the days of Tishman Speyer, who attempted to apply for submetering behind everyone’s back — then subsequently withdrew the application,” said Steinberg.
The aforementioned sample lease has a paragraph on the issue of submetering.
It states, in part, “As of the execution of this Lease, the building is master metered for electricity, and the cost of the electricity is included in the rent, except as to the air conditioner charges. Landlord intends to file a petition with the New York State Public Service Commission to install direct or sub-metering equipment which will allow for the billing of the actual electric consumption by Tenant for this apartment. Provided the Public Service Commission has approved the Landlord’s petition and the direct or sub-metering work has been completed, Tenant shall be responsible for paying such electrical consumption by Tenant, plus such administrative and/or other fees as may be permitted… When electricity is sub-metered, any charges due landlord for electricity shall be considered as Additional rent. When building is submetered, landlord will comply with DHCR rent guidelines regarding submetering stabilized rent units.”
Steinberg, who does not want to see the property get submetered, said, “Submetering is problematic, but should SPS decide to do so, we hope they will communicate their intention in a timely and public fashion, unlike Tishman Speyer.”
Steinberg also noted that there is also a question of whether submetering qualifies as a major capital improvement (MCI).
“The state of the electrical wiring seems to be the primary determining factor,” Steinberg said.
Tishman Speyer had hoped to collect an MCI rent increase that totaled $16 million as well as get a $10 million NYSERDA grant to help pay for what was estimated to be a $30 million project.
Note: An earlier version of this article said Blackstone said there were no plans for submetering. However spokesperson Marynia Kruk is employed by StuyTown Property Services, Blackstone’s management arm.