CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Senate Majority Leader John Unger (D-Berkeley, 16) says the power bills Potomac Edison’s customers are paying are not accurate at times. “They need to actually charge people for what they use. Period,” said Unger on Friday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
Earlier this week, he called on the state Public Service Commission to force Potomac Edison to stop estimating power usage each month and, instead, read each customer’s meter every month and charge for electricity accordingly.
“If weather causes one (meter reading) not to be done one month, that’s explainable, but you’ve got to explain it,” said Unger. “The way they’re doing it now, they’re not reading it every month.” Currently, he said, several months of bills based on estimates are adding up to large amounts for Potomac Edison’s customers.
Todd Meyers is the spokesperson for FirstEnergy — the parent company of both Potomac Edison and Mon Power. He said the companies are fully staffed with meter readers; however, poor weather conditions sometimes keep those meter readers from getting out, as scheduled.
“When you have several back-to-back estimates before the next actual reading, true-up bills can be higher than anticipated,” he said. In the end, though, Meyers said customers “ultimately pay only for the amount of electricity they use.”
“Had we overbilled them during an estimated month, they would receive credit to their bill based on the actual reading,” said Meyers in a statement sent to MetroNews. At no time, he said, is information concerning FirstEnergy power customers reported to credit bureaus.
Unger, though, said customers are being unfairly burdened because of bad decisions from Potomac Edison.
“Poor decision on top of poor decision on top of devastating storms on top of more poor decisions with no management thought of potential impacts on the customer,” he said. “This is a pattern of behavior.”
He said the PSC should order Potomac Edison to (1) read each customer’s meter each month, (2) report the actual reading to the PSC for a minimum of one year, (3) take all steps necessary to have all negative credit information that may be reported to credit bureaus expunged from customers’ credit reports and (4) establish safeguards to prevent overbilling in the future.
The PSC launched an investigation into the billing practices of both Potomac Energy and Mon Power last year. That investigation is ongoing.