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Chambersburg will crack down on renters who dodge power bills

February 11, 1998|By DON AINES

Chambersburg will crack down on renters who dodge power bills

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Some tenants with a history of not paying their electric bills in Chambersburg will soon find it hard to run up bigger bills.

The Borough Council voted Thursday night to install electric service limiters on some renters. Borough Manager Eric Oyer said the borough has purchased 10 of the $80 devices to install on customer meters.

He explained that the limiters work by cutting off the main circuit breaker to a house or apartment when the customer uses more than a prescribed amount of current. The tenant can reset the breaker, but will have to first turn off an appliance or two.

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The policy approved Thursday calls for the limiters to be used on customers who are renters, are delinquent in their electric bills and who do not rely on electric heat.

Because there are just a few of the limiters, Oyer said they will initially be applied to delinquent renters who have been delinquent in previous years and those with the largest amounts past due in the current year.

"Our intent is getting people to pay their bills in a more timely manner," Oyer said after the meeting. The policy targets renters because the borough can place liens against property owners who fail to pay electric bills, but landlords often have little control over whether their tenants pay their bills.

Chambersburg runs its own electric and gas utilities, according to Oyer. He said the borough has a policy of not turning off electric service to customers in arrears between Dec. 1 and April 1 due to health and safety concerns.

Oyer said some customers, however, take advantage of that policy.

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