Remind you of anyone?
Vectren's excuse is that its meter reading contractor simply quit reading meters at the end of its contract period when it knew it would not be receiving a new contract. The company says that the 400 customers affected can pay their gigantic bills in smaller increments, without interest.
The company has "put a formal communications plan in place." This means they're spinning and trying to downplay the true magnitude of the problem.
The Courier Press says the problem is much bigger than Vectren has admitted.
The Courier & Press began investigating this issue after receiving a call from a local business owner on Friday concerned that her bill had tripled without warning.
Vectren initially said that more bills than usual were estimated over the summer because the company switched meter reading contractors, and it was changing the readers’ routes.
“Without getting into specifics, there are challenges that happen with any contractor transitions,” Hedde said Tuesday morning. She added that the anonymous caller’s high bill was likely atypical.
“I don’t want to give the impression that that is normal,” Hedde said. “She is experiencing something hopefully that is an anomaly.”
But response to a Courier & Press’ Facebook post showed the issue was widespread. Hundreds of people replied to the post with stories of bills that were several times what they expected.
The Indiana Regulatory Commission doesn't seem to see this as a problem.
But mistake or no, customers whose bills were underestimated must pay up, said the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.
“They are responsible for it,” said Natalie Derrickson, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. “At this point, if a customer feels like their bill was estimated and they have larger bills than they were expecting, their first step should be to contact Vectren. If the customer feels like the issue is not resolved, they should contact us.”
Seems to me that if the problem was caused by a contractor that did not live up to its legal obligations, then Vectren and/or the affected customers have a clear course of action. Unless... maybe Vectren isn't being honest about this and is scapegoating a contractor they no longer do business with?
You'd think the Indiana Regulatory Commission would at least want to get to the bottom of this.
At any rate, the Courier & Press wants to know what the people think -- Should utilities be permitted to estimate customers’ bills for periods longer than one month?
As we found out here in West Virginia when thousands of customers were abused in exactly the same fashion by FirstEnergy, meters should be read every month.