PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA)—When Duke Energy turned on the power at Barbara Deavers’ home in Palm Harbor, the line to the house caught fire and the meter blew up.
“It happened October 3,” said Ms. Deavers. “I didn’t move until October 27 and they never notified me about it.”
Despite having no wire, no meter and no electricity, Barbara received a $65 power bill.
“I didn’t have electricity then, why should I have to pay for it?” Barbara asked.
And what about the concrete pile Duke left at her home when they had to replace the electric line?
“And every time I’d call I’d get a different story from a different person,” Barbara said. “I’m not happy about it, I mean this is kind of my ‘Welcome to Florida’ was you know moving in, no electricity and then dealing with Duke,” added Barbara.
When I reached out to Duke, their spokesperson Ana Gibbs explained that since there wasn’t a meter reading, the company’s computer’s automatically estimated what Barbara owed based on her average monthly usage.
This is not new. In September, the company suspended meter readings when Hurricane Irma hit Florida. At the time, it’s estimated bills ignited a firestorm. Linda Curry tells us her bill jumped to three times its normal cost.
“I’m very upset with Duke right now,” Linda said.
Duke Energy supplies electricity to nearly 7.5 million customers each day.
The company wasn’t exactly customer friendly in February when it refused to bury a high voltage power line it laid through Sunny Acres, a mobile home park in Pinellas County.
“It’s dangerous you know, dangerous,” said homeowner Francis Dorsey.
In March, Duke quibbled with two other mobile home parks about paying for line work. But when we started asking questions, Duke became a bit more consumer-friendly.
When we told them about Barbara, Duke responded quickly. It will adjust Barbara’s November bill and clean up the mess it made by next week.
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