Electric bill error affects thousands

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- About 2,800 city of Covington electricity customers were affected by a billing calculating error on utility bills that went out in October. The good news is bills were calculated to be higher than they should have been, and customers who received a corrected version owed less.

The error occurred when the city's software provider made some adjustments to take into account customers who are now using solar power, and, when they generate more energy than they can use, selling it back to the city.

"When that characteristic was added, it somehow changed the calculations on the standard rate," City Manager Steve Horton said.

As a result, the usage shown at the top of the customer's bill was not the same as that shown lower on the bill where the rate was calculated. In fact, it was nearly doubled on the rate calculation.

The error was caught shortly after bills were mailed and a letter was immediately sent notifying customers, Horton said. A correct bill was also mailed immediately. City customer service staff have been notified of the issue and are to check the bills of any customers who come in person to pay, Horton said. The issue has also been corrected in the software.

This is the first billing period the error has occurred; customers can check for themselves by making sure the usage at the top of the bill matches the usage down below where the rate is listed, Horton said.

"Nobody got any penalties. If someone feels they are getting some penalties, let us know and we'll make corrections," he said, adding that it hasn't been a big issue for most, since due dates on the bills aren't until early and mid-November. The city has different billing cycles and due dates vary according to geographic area.