Billed more for using less power?

KINGWOOD, TX The problem is made more complex because her power provider does not even read the meter. Like most folks in our area, CenterPoint read the meter in question and found problems so they estimated the usage. But the homeowner disagrees and says the estimates are too high.

Yvette Clark had energy-efficient windows installed in her home in April and says they have made a huge difference in her home already. Clark's windows have even had an impact on her power usage as well. The bill has been lower each month compared to the same time last year.

She said, "Our electric bill has gone down drastically."

Things were great until this month when Clark's power bill was the highest she had ever seen, at more than $800.

Clark said, "All of a sudden I got bill that said I used 7,000 kilowatts of energy, which I have never used that much energy before."

Clark called her power provider, and they referred her to CenterPoint because CenterPoint reads the meters.

"They basically said the meter was broken, and it was replaced, fixed actually, and they took an estimate of what I used and they just guessed," Clark explained.

CenterPoint officials told me the bills sent Clark were indeed estimated because they said the usage seemed just too low. But now CenterPoint is taking a further step.

CenterPoint spokesperson Alicia Dixon said, "We do want to pull the meter and actually test it. Though problems with meters are rare, we want to test it and make sure."

Dixon says Clark's meter will undergo a full diagnostic test, and if a problem is found, the bill could be lowered.

"If we test it and determine there was a problem with the meter, then what we would do is send new readings to her electric meter provider and that would give them an opportunity to rebill them for actual usage," Dixon explained.

It could take a few days to figure out if the meter was the problem, but we also saw some very strange bills from the Clarks' power provider, so if there is an error, it could still take a while to get it all straightened out.

If you think your power bill was estimated too high, what should you do? Call your provider first. They can determine if the usage numbers were correctly put on your bill, they may ask you to call CenterPoint, because that's who reads the meters. These problems can be difficult to resolve. In this case, CenterPoint is starting to track down the issue.

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