Duke customers hit with sticker shock after company says 'human error' caused erroneously low bills

HENRY COUNTY, Ind. -- Duke Energy customers in New Castle are getting hit with sticker shock this month after the company said they're now paying for "human error" that caused their bills to be lower than they should have been over the past few months. 

 

Power bills are arriving in the mail that are double, even triple, what customers typically pay this time of year.


It’s puzzling many customers because they haven’t had to crank up the air conditioning with the cooler weather in Central Indiana.

 

New Castle customer Justin Jones said his September Duke Energy power bill was $351.88.

“My normal bill for the summertime is $160,” said Jones. “I was shocked. I thought initially that it has to be a mistake.”

 

Another New Castle customer, Joe Devine, said his bill was $285.87.

 

Last month, he paid $65.69 for electricity, records show.

 

Devine contacted Call 6 Investigates Kara Kenney about the problem.

 

Call 6 Investigates contacted Duke Energy, who blamed the mistake on human error.

 

Duke Energy spokesperson Lew Middleton said two meter readers misread meters for several months.

 

“So some customers were actually billed for less power than they actually used in prior months,” said Middleton. “We have now obtained accurate meter readings.”

 

The bills arriving in September are making up the difference for the mistake.

 

Middleton said 1,900 customers are impacted by the error.

 

“You can contact Duke Energy customer service center at 1-800-521-2232, and we do have payment arrangements available,” said Middleton.

 

RELATED: http://www.theindychannel.com/news/call-6-investigators/call-6-rising-utility-bills-frustrate-hoosier-families

 

Both Jones and Devine said they are able to pay their larger bill, but feel for the elderly and others who live paycheck to paycheck.

 

“It’s very disheartening,” said Jones. “I know nobody’s perfect, but it was the way it was communicated. We had to realize it and then contact them to find out what the issue was.”

           

Devine pointed out customers are penalized for not paying the proper amount.

 

“I think when the common man messes up, they’re sure to let us know, but when a big business messes up, it’s supposed to be no big deal,” said Devine.


Experts say it’s a good idea to review your utility month to make sure it’s in line with what you normally pay.

 

RESOURCES FOR CONSUMERS:

If you need help paying your bill, try calling 211 or contacting your township trustee’s office

RESOURCES FROM DUKE ENERGY:

RESOURCES FROM CITIZENS ENERGY GROUP:

RESOURCES FROM IPL:

Payment Assistance

Payment Extensions—Customers can call our Customer Service line at 317-261-8222 to request a short-term or long-term payment extension.

Energy Assistance—Although the moratorium has ended for utility customers, they can call community centers in their neighborhoods, their Township Trustee offices, or Connect2Help at 2-1-1 for possible assistance.

Billing & Payment Options—Customers can sign up via their online account or by calling customer service.

Budget Billing—Pay the same amount each month for 11 months and settle the difference on the 12th month.

Preferred Billing Date—customers can choose a due date that’s convenient for them.

Home Energy Savings—Customers can manage energy use and their monthly bills by utilizing IPL PowerToolsTM.

IPL PowerView—This free resource provides actual daily energy use and determines habits that cost customers money, view bills over time, overlays actual weather factors, provides no-cost and low-cost recommendations for saving energy, sets up a customized energy-saving plan, and see how comparable households.

Home Energy Assessment—The free HEA and the installation of energy-saving equipment are available to our customers to help manage energy bills and improve energy efficiency in homes.

Home Energy Inspector—Complete an online questionnaire that analyzes your household’s energy use and you’ll receive a FREE energy efficiency kit.

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