While Duke Energy says it is streamlining operations by eliminating duplicate meter reader routes, State Sen. Jack Latvala says the company is squeezing extra cash out of customers during the hottest time of the year.
Latvala, R-Clearwater, is responding to an announcement from Duke that it is creating a longer billing cycle on a one-time-basis for some customers affected by the route changes. Those customers may also see their bill due dates change. That one-time increased bill could add an additional 12 days of electric costs, The Tampa Tribune reported.
The problem with that, Latvala said, is those customers who see additional days on their bill may also see higher per-kilowatt-hour electric costs. The utility charges $11.34 per 100 kilowatt hours for the first 1,000 kilowatt hours used. That rate goes up to $13.70 for each additional 100 kilowatt hours over 1,000.
“Although it may be legal for utility companies to squeeze additional money from customers in this manner, it certainly isn’t moral,” The Tribune quoted a letter from Latvala to Duke President Alexander Glenn as saying.
“Changing the meter-reading route may also cause some customers to receive bills covering more than 30 days, which could make the bill appear higher than usual,” Duke acknowledges on its website. The company says the changes are meant to streamline the meter reading process.
Latvala has asked Duke to do away with higher rates for electric use that exceeds the 1,000 kilowatt mark during the transition period.
It is unclear at this time if Duke will agree to the request.
To find out more about the upcoming changes for Duke Energy customers, visit the company’s website.
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Photo Credit: State Sen. Jack Latvala/Patch File Photo