Duke's president to address billing complaints

St. Petersburg, Florida -- Some Pinellas County Duke Energy customers are outraged over being charged for extra days on their August billing cycle. In some cases, customers are being charged up to 12 additional billing days forcing some customers to pay a higher rate for their power.

Adding the extra billing days can increase a customer's kilowatt hours. If you go over 1,000 kilowatts, you pay a higher rate for your power.

Duke Energy says due to customer growth it has to create new meter reading routes, which means their customers' billing cycle is longer this time around. It's a move that could impact 40 percent of customers' bills.

MORE: Customers hot about higher Duke Energy bills

Duke says they started rerouting meter readers in Central Florida first which started in May and now it's time for its customers in Pinellas County. But the move comes during the warmer months when most customers are already paying higher bills.

10 News has learned there are currently hundreds of billing complaints against Duke Energy that have been filed with Florida's Public Service Commission. Monday morning, 10 News requested a comment from Art Graham who is the chairman of the PSC. A spokeswoman from his office says state law prohibits him from speaking to the media about an issue that may come under its review.

REACTION: PSC wants to briefing on situation

We have learned that Duke Energy's president for Florida, Alex Glenn, will be in Tallahassee for unrelated hearings in front of the commission on Tuesday.

A Duke Energy spokesman says Glenn will be discussing a natural gas plant. But next week on Sept. 4, Glenn will appear in front of the PSC to talk exclusively about the most current billing issue the company calls "Florida Rerouting." The PSC is calling the situation urgent.

10 News requested a one-on-one interview with Glenn in person or over the phone, but we are still waiting for an answer.

In the meantime, several local lawmakers have written letters to complain about Duke's billing practices.

Sen. Jack Latvala, (R) Clearwater wrote a letter to Duke Energy. In the letter, he wrote:

"In the spirit of being a good corporate citizen toward your Florida consumers, I am asking that you abandon the idea of charging higher rates to customers simply because your company has elected to expand the billing cycles of those customers. Although it might be legal for utility companies to squeeze additional money from customers in this manner, it certainly isn't moral."

Latvala also sent a similar letter to the state's Public Service Commission.

Sen. Jeff Brandes (R) St. Petersburg also sent a letter to the PSC. In it, he wrote:

"It is a quintessential responsibility of a public regulator to prevent actions from regulated entities that profiteer from the inability of consumers to exercise their preference for a competing service provider."

State Rep. Dwight Dudley (D) District 68. has also been critical of Duke Energy's billing practices. He attended a rally last week at Duke Energy's St. Petersburg office protesting the billing practice.

He's protested at Duke Energy before when the company took $5.1 billion from its customers to build two nuclear plants that failed. He says, "Don't calculate it in the hottest part of the year to maximize your profits."

SEE ALSO:Scott, Crist camps trade charges over utility legislation

Duke Energy has said customers can make payment arrangements to pay their higher electric bills.

Stay with 10 News for more details on this developing story.


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