---- — 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.
Our April bills finally reflect we had been overcharged by Duke Energy in the amount of $1,335. We received a $488 credit on the house and an $847 credit on the barn, and the amounts due had been subtracted from these credits. In the absence of grain drier usage in November, it would take almost two years to use up this amount of credit in the barn account. We therefore requested all overpayments be refunded and Duke has returned our money.
I wonder how many other Duke customers have had similar experiences with overcharges due to estimated bills. Even though this winter was unusually severe, we have had estimated bills almost every winter for a number of years. Does Duke benefit in some way by collecting more than is due? Does it earn interest on customer overpayments?
Finally, if it does become necessary to estimate the bills, why should that estimate be based on last month’s bill and additional fees be tacked on to that amount? I don’t think the customer should be penalized because of poor weather conditions.
If Duke chooses not to read the meters, then Duke should bear the negative consequences of this decision, not the customers.
Is it right to kill unneeded animals?
Imagine you are standing by a riverbank, and you see a baby floating down the river. You jump in to save the baby, and you see two more in the water. You try to save them and, while doing that, you see four more go by. You look up and see that someone is throwing more babies off a bridge. You want to stop that person, but the law is on his side. He has the right to get rid of those he no longer wants. This is the stuff of nightmares.
Now re-read the above and substitute animals for babies. Does the horror of the story change?
People who profit from using animals (breeders, racing, rodeos, meat, milk and egg industries) will dispose of those animals they can no longer use or make a profit, often by killing them, not for human consumption but just to get rid of them, and all of this is legal. The people by the riverbank, trying to save those castoffs, are the various humane and rescue societies.
People who don’t want their children can give them up for adoption. People with animals they can no longer use should do the same. As long as this kind of cruelty is allowed, people should not be shocked when people do violence to other people.
When I see people marching to “stop the violence,” I think to myself, they don’t see the connection. Violence is violence. You can’t protest one while condoning the other. The laws of a state for the prevention of cruelty to animals are a good indicator of that state’s enlightenment and the integrity of that state’s people.