HENRY COUNTY, Ind. -- Duke Energy customers in New Castle are getting hit with sticker shock this month after the company said they're now paying for "human error" that caused their bills to be lower than they should have been over the past few months.
Power bills are arriving in the mail that are double, even triple, what customers typically pay this time of year.
It’s puzzling many customers because they haven’t had to crank up the air conditioning with the cooler weather in Central Indiana.
New Castle customer Justin Jones said his September Duke Energy power bill was $351.88.
“My normal bill for the summertime is $160,” said Jones. “I was shocked. I thought initially that it has to be a mistake.”
Another New Castle customer, Joe Devine, said his bill was $285.87.
Last month, he paid $65.69 for electricity, records show.
Devine contacted Call 6 Investigates Kara Kenney about the problem.
Call 6 Investigates contacted Duke Energy, who blamed the mistake on human error.
Duke Energy spokesperson Lew Middleton said two meter readers misread meters for several months.
“So some customers were actually billed for less power than they actually used in prior months,” said Middleton. “We have now obtained accurate meter readings.”
The bills arriving in September are making up the difference for the mistake.
Middleton said 1,900 customers are impacted by the error.
“You can contact Duke Energy customer service center at 1-800-521-2232, and we do have payment arrangements available,” said Middleton.
Both Jones and Devine said they are able to pay their larger bill, but feel for the elderly and others who live paycheck to paycheck.
“It’s very disheartening,” said Jones. “I know nobody’s perfect, but it was the way it was communicated. We had to realize it and then contact them to find out what the issue was.”
Devine pointed out customers are penalized for not paying the proper amount.
“I think when the common man messes up, they’re sure to let us know, but when a big business messes up, it’s supposed to be no big deal,” said Devine.
Experts say it’s a good idea to review your utility month to make sure it’s in line with what you normally pay.
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