The investigations are expected to take many months to complete and will examine company business practices on a system-wide level, but they will not address individual customer complaints. In the meantime, many in our community are wondering what they can do about inaccurate electric bills, or how they can most effectively participate in the PSC’s investigation.
“We are providing guidelines for ways that Potomac Edison ratepayers can seek help when they receive excessive bills. We also have suggestions for ratepayers who want to share their experiences with the PSC as its investigation gets under way,” said Keryn Newman of the Coalition for Reliable Power. “The direction and outcome of this investigation is up to each one of you. Please take a few minutes to participate and assist the PSC in its fact-finding. Help the PSC help you. Every customer voice matters,” she added.
One protective measure moving forward is to check your own electric meter once a month, to keep an eye on how closely Potomac Edison’s estimates track actual usage.
“Ratepayers should learn to read their own meters,” said Mike Nemec, a retired Pennsylvania utilities commission judge who now lives in Charles Town. “I understand that it’s the utility’s job to read the meter, but the analogy would be to checking your monthly credit card statement or bank statement for any errors.”
Potomac Edison or Mon Power customers who would like to sign up to receive periodic email news updates from the citizens’ organizations as the investigations progress, as well as other recommended customer actions, may contact the Coalition via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
How consumers can get assistance and relief
We encourage every Potomac Edison customer to familiarize themselves with the location and operation of their electric meter so that they may monitor the company’s accuracy monthly. Instructions for reading your own meter can be found on the back of your monthly bill. Just as you review charges on any bill to verify its accuracy, customers can compare monthly usage printed on their bill to actual usage recorded on their meter.
Potomac Edison customers who have received an inaccurate or troublesome electric bill and need immediate, individual relief should take the following steps:
1. Call Potomac Edison at 1-800-686-0011. The company encourages customers to call to clear up disputes and/or set up a reasonable payment plan.
2. If you are not satisfied after speaking with the company, contact a WV PSC Consumer Affairs Technician at 1-800-642-8544 to begin a formal or informal dispute process.
3. In the event of a large discrepancy or successive estimated bills, customers should call the company at 1-800-686-0011 to report their own meter readings and request an adjustment and re-billing. You do not have to wait for a certain day of the month to ask the company for an accurate bill. This method is not a long-term solution, but being a proactive consumer can be your first line of defense until the investigations are completed and the PSC orders improvements to the company’s meter reading practices.
For those who have had excessive estimates, larger than normal bills, and/or poor customer service, and are not looking for individual billing relief, we ask that you take part in the PSC General Investigation:
1. For online comments, select case number 13-0830-E-GI from the “High Profile Cases” drop-down list at http://www.psc.state.wv.us/scripts/onlinecomments/formalDisclaimer.cfm. Online comments are limited to 2500 characters and may not include attachments.
2. Submit written comments via fax or U.S. mail. Be sure your comments and any attachments are marked with case number 13-0830-E-GI. Send to:
Public Service Commission of West Virginia
P.O.Box 812 Charleston, WV 25323
By fax: 304-340-0325
3. Tips for composing comments: The PSC investigation is focused on Potomac Edison’s and Mon Power’s meter reading, billing and customer service practices. You should focus on these topics.
a. Tell the PSC if your electric meter has not been read every other month as required by the company’s tariff. Your monthly electric bill contains a graph in the bottom left corner showing estimated and actual reads. If you can, send the PSC a copy of this graph, being sure to copy the entire left hand side of your bill that shows your name and address and the billing period dates. (see sample here) One graph contains a 13-month history, so you don’t need to send multiple copies.
b. If you received a bill that was much higher than normal, let the PSC know when and how much. Include copies of bills that show the problem, if possible.
c. If you are not happy with the customer service you received from Potomac Edison’s call center, tell the PSC, providing as much detail of the situation as possible, including dates and names, if you have them.
d. Any other related problems or issues.
Be as concise and factual as possible; avoid getting bogged down in too much detail. Remember, your individual issue won’t be solved or noted in the investigation, you are providing the PSC with a general example of your experience with the company, to be combined with other customer examples and considered as evidence.