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Upset Customers Attend Public Hearing on Electric Billing

"This is my most recent bill and it shows that in this month I used 318-kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is pretty good, you know, we've had a pretty mild month so far,” said Patience Wait. “But if you look at what they showed for a year ago, in October, they had me, they had estimated me at about 3300-kilowatt-hours. That is 10 times what I actually used."
SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - After months of questions about Potomac Edison's billing practices, the electric company's customers had the chance to air their concerns.
 
The first of four public hearings on billing and meter readings was held Wednesday evening.

Representatives from First Energy were there and so were dozens of upset customers.

The auditorium at the Frank Center wasn't exactly full, but the people who did show up had a lot to say.

"Potomac Edison has been having some real problems reading meters and in my own bills I've seen evidence of it, I've seen you know, several estimations in a row and the estimates that they've given have been really, really off," said one customer from Shepherdstown, Patience Wait.

A spokesperson for Potomac Edison, Todd Meyers, offered customers an explanation as to why the numbers might seem off.

"Between the storms, between the renumbering, something that we instituted to make the process better but in the short run it actually made some things worse. You had a string of estimates, and that could result at the end where we came out to read a meter in a larger than expected actual bill," said Todd Meyers.

Because there has been a lot of confusion about this, the West Virginia Public Service Commission is holding public hearings to allow upset customers the chance to talk face to face with representatives from Potomac Edison and Mon Power. The PSC acts as a court of law in this case.

"They ordered the companies to file specific customer service metrics so we can keep track of things like calls into the call center, whether or not people are being satisfied with the first call, how long they're having to wait on the phone," said PSC spokesperson, Susan Small.

There were about 15 people who signed up to file complaints at the first hearing.

"This is my most recent bill and it shows that in this month I used 318-kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is pretty good, you know, we've had a pretty mild month so far,” said Patience Wait. “But if you look at what they showed for a year ago, in October, they had me, they had estimated me at about 3300-kilowatt-hours. That is 10 times what I actually used."

Some customers are calling for the energy companies to do a monthly meter reading for an entire year. And although there will be no result from this hearing, representatives from Potomac Edison and Mon Power say they will be working to fix this issue for the customers.

However, they don't think they'll be able to do a meter reading every month because of staffing.

Once the hearings have concluded on Friday morning, customers can still get in touch with the public service commission as well as a representative from First Energy about any issues they're having. The customer contact center number is 1-800-686-0022 for Mon Power or 1-800-686-0011 for Potomac Edison.
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