Ft. Bend Co. community: Power surges costing us thousands

July 11, 2013 8:24:23 PM PDT
Residents and business owners in one Fort Bend County neighborhood say their lives are getting interrupted over and over again by power surges. And they also say it's costing them thousands of dollars in fried appliances.

For three months, homeowners in the area say they have complained to CenterPoint Energy about power outages and surges, but they say the company has failed to fix the problem. But after receiving our calls, CenterPoint has promised to take action and send a crew here Friday.

Latischia McDonald loves the stress-free lifestyle she enjoys in the tiny Fort Bend County town of Damon. But recently, she says living out here has been a hassle because of daily power outages and surges.

"When you have over 100 outages in less than 90 days, there's a problem," McDonald said.

By her count, her subdivision of 250 homes has experienced more than 120 since April.

And it's been more than just an inconvenience. She said a recent power surge destroyed her well pump, which had to be replaced for $2,700, and CenterPoint did not pay for it.

"They assigned a claims adjuster and the adjuster said, 'No way, we have a tariff that says that we don't have to replace anything that our surges break, because we don't have to supply you constant electricity,'" McDonald said.

She says a surge also damaged the septic pump, costing her another $700, plus she had to replace her main breaker and have a surge protector installed.

"We had our electrician come out, $3,500 to replace it. And that same day, I had four surges, didn't help anything," McDonald said.

The total price tag? About $6,900, and all of it was her responsibility. This letter denying her claim explains that a tariff protects CenterPoint from liability.

McDonald says just because it's legal doesn't make it right.

"That's what we're having to do, is pay for our electricity then pay for what CenterPoint breaks so I don't think it's fair," McDonald said.

CenterPoint Energy Spokesperson Alicia Dixon says the company is aware of the problems in this area.

"We've identified a piece of equipment, which may have been damaged by lightning, that we believe has been causing the problem. It is scheduled to be replaced tomorrow morning," Dixon said.

What CenterPoint still has not addressed is the uncompensated cost to homeowners who have suffered property damage.

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