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Allegheny Energy had June billing mistakes

September 25, 2000

Allegheny Energy had June billing mistakes



By DON WORTHINGTON / Staff Writer


When William Shelton of Boonsboro received his newly formatted bill from Allegheny Energy, he decided to compare it with his last bill.

He entered info from both bills on a computer. When he hit tabulate, he couldn't believe what he saw. The computer-generated total for his June bill was $8.81 less than the "total payment due" on his bill.

Shelton, an accountant by trade, then added his bill with a calculator. He again found a difference of $8.81.

Calls to Allegheny Energy customer service representatives did not yield an answer that satisfied Sheraton.

An Allegheny Energy spokesman said Monday that Shelton's case wasn't unique. The power company sent out about 20,000 bills that didn't add up to about 9.5 percent of its Maryland customers between June 7 and June 12.

But the total payment due amount was correct, so the company did not notify customers directly.

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Customers who called to question the bill were sent a corrected bill, Allegheny Energy spokesman Guy Fletcher said.

Shelton said he was told that wasn't an option because he had waited too long.

"Because this didn't affect the overall charge it was our decision that this was the best way to handle it, offering the opportunity to get a corrected bill," Fletcher said.

Fletcher said he did not know how many customers questioned the bills, or how many corrected statements were sent out.

While company policy prohibits comment on individual bills, Fletcher said the problem involved the state earnings sharing credit. Because of a computer error, the credit was double-billed. It was deducted from the base charge for electricity and also posted as a credit.

Fletcher said the earnings sharing credit is an agreement that the company has with the state's Public Service Commission to refund some of its profits over an agreed amount to its customers.

In all, Allegheny Energy is returning $9.7 million to its residential customers, with the typical customer receiving a $4.20 credit for 1,000 kilowatt hours used each billing period, Fletcher said.

Because the bill's bottom line was correct Fletcher said no more action was necessary. The problem has since been fixed, he said.

The discrepancy points out that customers should double-check their bills, Shelton said.

Fletcher agreed, and said any discrepancies should be reported to a company customer service representative at 1-800-255-3443.

Allegheny Energy has about 208,000 customers in Maryland.

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