Power can still be turned off, even in hot weather

August 3, 2011 5:43:39 PM PDT
The weather is so hot outside that power companies have suspended disconnection notices. But we found a local couple who was still facing the prospect of living without electricity and the problem was not because they did not pay a bill.

The disconnections stop when a heat advisory is in place, but only for those who cannot pay their bills. However, your power can be cut off for other reasons no matter how hot it is.

Parris McNeal's home is nice and cool right now, but on Tuesday she says a CenterPoint employee came to shut off the power.

"He goes, 'I have a notice to come shut off electricity.' I said, 'No, no, I have not received my first month's bill yet,'" said McNeal.

It turns out the trouble with McNeal's electricity started when she moved into her home a month ago. That's when she says she signed up with Reliant Energy to be her power provider.

"I have been to my mailbox every day for three weeks and still no mail from the electric company -- nothing," said McNeal.

While McNeal thought everything was fine with Reliant, the company never actually enrolled her.

Reliant told us, "When Ms. McNeal contacted us for service, we were not able to complete the enrollment. We needed additional information. We tried to contact her at the number she provided on at least two occasions, but were unable to reach her to complete the process."

That means McNeal had no electricity provider at all even though the power was still on. When CenterPoint found electricity being used at the home and no provider on file, the company moved to cut off the power.

After we contacted CenterPoint, the company told us, "We are looking into this particular situation. It has come to our attention that this individual has no retail electric provider. We have notified them that they must choose an electric provider to avoid disconnection. In the meantime, this meter will not be disconnected due to the heat advisory currently in effect."

That means the power will stay on at least until Monday; time enough for McNeal to pick a power provider.

McNeal, like anyone who moves into a new home, must pick a power provider. When you move in, you will get disconnected regardless of the hot weather. McNeal says she will take care of that by the end of the week.

So even with the heat, people can still be disconnected. We all must have a power provider. If not, the power gets turned off because there is no way to bill the customer and no one gets free power.


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