Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) – A lot of people enjoy puzzles but not so much when the puzzle is their electric bill.
A Lake Area physician spent time analyzing his bills to figure out why there seemed to be significant discrepancies between the amount of the bill and his actual usage.
Doctor J, as many people call him, became a sort of electricity sleuth recently – spending between 7 and 10 days deciphering inconsistencies between his electric bill and meter.
“I’m pretty good at math. I went and figured out some things,” Dr. Jim Jancuska said.
Dr. Jancuska noticed his electric bill seemed too high. So, he decided to implement various energy-saving measures: shutting down or reducing the use of some of his appliances.
“I start making some adjustments with electricity use, but then the next month the bill came in and it was just as big as the shocker,” Dr. Jancuska said.
After conserving electricity, Dr. Jancuska still saw no reduction in his bill.
“I kept reducing as much electricity use that I could,” Dr. Jancuska said. “I really wasn’t seeing the reduction that I had anticipated.”
Dr. Jancuska analyzed his bills and discovered his new meter was not linked to his paper bill.
“The meter here had a number on it that was different than the meter number on my bill,” Dr. Jancuska said. “Bottom line is, they sent somebody out, I wasn’t here, and that person discovered that this meter was never set up on my account, okay?
Dr. Jancuska’s paper bill overcharged him by about $400 over four months.
“To most people, $450 is a lot of money,” Dr. Jancuska said.
Dr. Jancuska also discovered his usage was being estimated, and no one was reading his meter.
“They were making estimates, not realizing that I was conserving energy,” Dr. Jancuska said. “How many other people out there have the same problem?”
Dr. Jancuska eventually reached Entergy and believes his bill will be fixed to reflect his usage.
Entergy says they could not safely access some customers’ meters during hurricane cleanup, and there have been some inaccurate bills.
Spokesperson Margaret Harris says crews have been replacing meters, and the new ones provide benefits to customers, including the ability to check real-time usage and billing.
Anyone who thinks there’s a mistake on their bill, should call 1-800-entergy. Also, visit the Entergy website.
Here is Harris’s full statement:
While we have experienced some billing inaccuracies following the installation of advanced meters, these have been infrequent in nature. In addition, In the aftermath of major storms, like Hurricane Laura, due to our inability to safely access customers’ meters and our focus on the restoration effort, some customers saw bills that were higher or lower than what was actually used due to estimations. These two issues have caused some billing inaccuracies for a small number of customers.
Advanced meters continue to provide our customers a wide variety of benefits, including the ability to check real-time usage and billing. We continue to do everything we can to work with our customers and resolve these issues on a case-by-case basis. If anyone suspects an error on their account, they should call 1-800-ENTERGY so we can help ensure billing is accurate.
You asked specifically about how the issue could have happened that the advanced meter wasn’t captured on the customer’s account/bill.
Although it’s an infrequent occurrence, the meter may not have synced when the meter installation occurred.
Harris says the new meters are intended to be read remotely. She says a communications network was established and installed on poles for that purpose. She says a large percentage of customers have advanced meters, but not everyone.
Written by Theresa Schmidt