A rebuke of Dukefor usage estimates
In a recent letter to Sound Off, Doug Esamann of Duke Energy Indiana wrote in support of Senate Bill 340, which eliminated customer benefits for energy-saving home improvements, while touting Duke’s commitment to continuing its own energy efficiency programs.
Now that Mr. Esamann has clarified Duke’s position on energy efficiency, perhaps he could explain its policy regarding estimated electrical charges due to weather conditions. When the meters are not read, what is the criteria used to estimate the customer’s electrical usage? It appears this “estimate” is made by tacking an extra 8-10 percent on to the previous month’s bill. This assumes we will use more electricity during the estimated period than we used during the previous billing period. This is an invalid and self-serving assumption, as our case demonstrates.
We have two accounts with Duke: one for the house and one for the barn. Neither of our meters were read on Jan. 21 (the designated read date), and in February we received estimated bills.
Since we winter in Florida and our home is unoccupied in January, February and March, our electrical usage is considerably less for these months than for the previous month. Our electric bill for the barn is never more than $40, except during harvest when the grain driers are in use. This normally occurs in November and/or December and results in considerably higher usage for that billing period.
When our electrical bills for February arrived in Florida, it was apparent the estimates were greatly inflated, but we had no recourse except to pay them. When our March bills arrived, we had not been credited for the February house payment, and this was re-billed along with the current amount due. We had been credited for the barn payment but were billed for the current period, even though an $800 overpayment had been made in February. Again, we had no recourse except to pay these bills.