Duke Energy to credit Pinellas customers impacted by extended billing cycles

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla - Duke Energy officials announced Wednesday afternoon they will credit the accounts of more than 300,000 customers whose bills were impacted as a result of a meter reroute in the Pinellas County area.

The company provides electricity to almost 600,000 customers but not all were affected.

Many customers are receiving or set to receive bills much higher than they're used to. Duke Energy decided to extend its billing cycle earlier this month, resulting in customers being charged a higher amount of kilowatt hours at a higher rate even though they were not using more energy.

The change drew outrage from legislators and customers and resulted in protests.

Christine Lester of Pinellas Park received a letter she says told her the billing cycle was being extended by 10 days. After multiple calls to Duke and crunching some numbers on a notepad, she estimates her bill will increase by $50.

She is already on a budget payment plan and has no idea where she will find the extra money.

"I have no idea where it is going to come out of," said Lester. "We are going to have to find a place for it to come out of."

Despite a credit coming, Lester will still be accountable for this increased bill.

"Customers have to pay for their energy usage no matter what," said Nicole LeBeau, Duke Energy spokeswoman. "So on their next month's billing statement, so not Sept 1., their next month's billing statement they would see a credit."

Since some meters for this month's bill need to be read, you cannot get the credit immediately.

"We have to bill according to usage, so we don't know how much folks are going to use next week," LeBeau added.

She said until all bills are issued, officials will not know if customers were pushed into the higher price tier. 

"We want to make this right. We absolutely want to make this right for our customers," she said.

The company is also offering customers an apology for what they are calling an "unintentional" inconvenience.

"It doesn't make sense. They've got enough money. Why do they got to keep overcharging the customer?" Lester said.

LeBeau told ABC Action News that customers should not be shocked if their refunds are not large. She said that with our temperatures so high, many people have their air conditioners running around the clock. She urges people to deduct the credit from their bill for August and then compare that figure with the amount they paid at the same time last year.

Duke Energy Officials Released the following statement:

Recently, Duke Energy Florida began a major meter reroute project to maximize efficiencies within its system. When

transitioning customers to a new due date, as a result of the reroute, some customers incurred a bill with more days

than a normal billing cycle, which unintentionally put them into a higher rate tier due to additional usage over the

extended period.

In response to our customers and the concerns of the Florida Public Service Commission, Duke said today that it will

be issuing a credit to all customers whose bills were affected by the reroute.

"We apologize for any hardships and confusion we have caused our customers, and we will make this right," said

Alex Glenn, state president of Duke Energy Florida. "We will continue to work with impacted customers until all

credits have been issued. We are also taking steps to ensure that this does not happen again."

The Company has additional call center representatives dedicated to ensuring every affected customer's

questions are answered and concerns promptly addressed. Customers who have specific billing questions can call

800.700.8744 from 7am-9pm Monday through Friday.

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