On Your Side: Hundreds of CU customers get dead meter bill notices

Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 6:07 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Check your mail. Hundreds of Springfield City Utilities customers are getting what’s probably an unexpected bill. Dead meters are to blame.

Two months ago, On Your Side warned you these bills were on the way.

Customers still got the energy, but their gas or water meter showed zero usage. On Your Side has heard from several viewers this week about getting notices.

Per policy, you must pay.

“It basically sounds like you’re over a barrel, and you’re going to pay it. So there you go. You got the option between City Utilities or building a campfire? I’m not sure,” said Joshua Petitt.

Petitt is one of the more than five hundred customers with a dead meter bill. He owes $616.01 for natural gas. Keep in mind CU offers power, water, and sewer. So Petitt and others alike were paying their monthly bills.

CU Workers found 389 dead gas meters and 120 dead water meters. The average bill for these customers is $900. Bills range from $3 to $2,000. These bills are estimated usage based on history. In December, CU workers told On Your Side customers have 24 months to pay up.

“The specifics of each situation will be evaluated,” said Brent Baker, VP Chief Customer Officer with City Utilities. “Not sure what each one will entail, but there are ways to extend that or look at fees that may be able to be waived. We are putting more in place to work with customers when they have this and to give our coworkers the opportunity to give more flexible arrangements to know where those assistance dollars are. Give us a call. Let us help as much as we possibly can.”

CLICK HERE to learn how to spot a dead utility meter. The customer must pay a $900 power bill for a faulty meter.

There’s no such thing as free energy. Still, board members talked about bill forgiveness at their annual meeting.

“If it’s our fault, I would be inclined to ask the city council to waive the collection on the accounts,” said Clif Smart at the CU board meeting. “It’s not significant money. No one is really going to have to pay for it. We have plenty of reserves. We got millions in reserves to cover what’s a very small amount. I would be inclined to say this is on us.”

“It’s not an option. It’s not a part of the current rules and regulations that our board and city council approved,” said Baker.

“That’s unacceptable. Basically, what I would like to see happen is for them to accept the fact they had faulty equipment and have no way to accurately gauge how much of the service was used, and therefore they really have no choice but to write it off,” said Petitt.

CU is trying to collect about $400,000. Per policy, customers can only be billed for up to 12 months for a dead meter.

The dead meters were fixed. There’s not a specific area or cluster where this happened. It’s across the coverage area. Customers can look at their bills and see if there’s a problem. If it reads, ‘no usage,’ that’s a red flag.

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