Tuesday, July 22, 2014
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New meter causes glitch with woman's electric bill

Anderson woman falls behind on electricity payments after new meter leads to billing glitch

Posted on July 14, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on July 14, 2014 at 9:41 a.m.

ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) — For six months, June Allen carefully reviewed her bill from Anderson city utilities, discovering she had not been charged for electric usage since Jan. 1.

Sitting in her home on Lawrence Way, Allen has carefully documented her utility bills from the city and finally went to the utility office to resolve the issue.

Allen said the problem started when the city replaced her electric meter with one that was supposed to automatically transmit the readings to the utility for billing purposes.

“I hadn’t paid an electric bill for six months,” she told The Herald Bulletin (http://bit.ly/1tI7toS ).

Allen’s bill for six months showed all zeroes when it came to the previous, current and usage totals. All that was included in the bill was a $5.84 meter charge.

Armed with her own reading of the meter from June 1 to June 30, which showed usage at 369, she went to the utility office.

Without reading her meter, it was determined that Allen owed a catch-up bill of $429.70. She agreed to pay $71.62 for the next six months.

Her average utility bill was in the range of $50 to $80 per month and the December bill was for $73.71.

The history of her billing for electric use showed a zero on Dec. 13, an adjustment on the same date to usage of 669 and then nothing for the first six months of 2014.

“I delayed,” Allen said of informing the city utility. “I waited six months. I wanted to see how long it would take for the city to discover the problem.”

Allen said because she is an honest person she wanted the problem corrected.

“I didn’t want to get a bill that was in the thousands,” she said. “I didn’t win the lottery.

“How many other people are not paying for electric since the new meter was changed?” Allen said.

She also expressed dismay at the fact the meter charge of $5.84 is hidden in the electric bill and that it’s increasing to $10 per month in August.

“I didn’t know I was paying a meter charge,” Allen said.

Pete Heuer, chairman of the Anderson Board of Public Works, said there have been a few problems with the electric readings since the meters were installed.

“Not that many people have had a problem,” he said. “Like with any new system, there have been some glitches.”

Heuer urged utility customers who are getting estimated bills or not being charged for electric usage to contact the utility office at 648-6187.

In 2006 the city entered into a contract with Wisconsin-based Johnson Control to replace the 23,500 water and 37,000 electric meters at a cost of $21 million.

Those meters were supposed to relay electronically the amount of water and electricity used for monthly billing purposes and to communicate problems directly to the utility office.

Problems began to surface in 2008 and increased in 2009, only accurate on 80 percent of the meter readings.

The city began working with the equipment manufacturer, Alcara, to replace or repair the meters at no cost to the city. The meters are being replaced by city crews.

All the meters are expected to be replaced or repaired by Aug. 26, 2015.

Information from: The Herald Bulletin, http://www.theheraldbulletin.com




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