Millie Mendelson wears gloves to do the dishes in their Pound Ridge home.
They bought their dream home in Westchester County two decades ago, but one New York couple say someone will be killed from the stray electric voltage in their posh, 200-year-old house.
Homeowners Millie and Hal Mendelson are taking their electric company to court for the alarming problems they say were caused by stray voltage from an electric substation next to their property in Pound Ridge. They filed a lawsuit in a Westchester court last week, Millie Mendelson told the Daily News.
“Most utility companies have dirty poles and dirty lines. Nobody actually forces them to fix anything because you need your electricity, you tend to let them slide on things,” she said.
Because the electricity company, NYSEG, a subsidiary of Iberdrola USA, was allowed to slide, Mendelson said she and her husband faced a whole slew of problems: medical symptoms that sometimes feel like Bell’s Palsy, pets gone crazy, and severe electric shocks they began to feel 15 years ago.
“It was one of the scariest things you could ever experience,” Millie Mendelson told the Daily News, describing the first time she was shocked, swimming toward the deep end of her house’s pool. “I was knocked back, I got a jolt and I got out of the pool and I have not been in there since.”
From that moment on, the shocks got worse.
Electric shocks have jolted Dr. Hal Mendelson and wife, Millie, inside their New York home for the last 15 years.
Mendelson’s husband was forced to shut down his on-site psychiatry practice and begin working a job upstate. She began wearing rubber gloves to protect herself from shocks while cleaning. And within several years, both started showing alarming medical symptoms: Millie, 65, has constant headaches and Hal, 76, suffers twitches, has high blood pressure, and even, once, felt his face droop uncontrollably.
As for their pets, Mendelson said she had to give away the couple’s horses, who constantly reared up and eventually broke her husband’s leg.
“We thought he had a neurological disorder,” Mendelson said of the horse. “He wouldn’t lift his neck; this is a symptom of stray voltage.”
Three years ago, Mendelson decided she would take action and contact NYSEG, the company that runs the substation near her home.
She wrote them “hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of letters” before the company — owned by the Spanish multinational Iberdrola, which has roughly 30 million customers worldwide — got back to her.
“They called me a liar,” she said. “They’re in Spain so they don’t really care about us.”
Mendelson said she tried to obtain the maintenance records of NYSEG’s substation, but she says the documents she received from them were fakes used to cover up poor care.
The company eventually provided the couple with a few alarms that could block up to 30 volts of electricity, but they didn’t solve the problem and only annoyed the neighbors, Mendelson said.
Now, headed to court, the Mendelsons are seeking property damage, loss of property value, and personal injury.
In the meantime, Mendelson says they have been “forced out” of their home, built in 1760 and now only a few doors down from one owned by Richard Gere.
“We have to get out of here — it’s the only way we can save our lives. If the stray voltage doesn’t kill us, the stress of it is going to,” she said, adding that this could happen to anyone.
When contact by the Daily News, NYSEG’s spokesperson Clayton Ellis responded with a statement, which said, “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.”
The company had no further comment because of the impending litigation, Ellis wrote.
And Town Supervisor David Warshauer did not respond to an interview request from the Daily News.