PSO electric meter shock

Wednesday, February 15th 2006, 10:25 am
By: News On 6

A south Tulsa man opened his electric bill this month and got quite a jolt. Seems his meter had broken at some point in the past and he's now being charged for five months worth of electricity that PSO says he owes them.

News on 6 reporter Steve Berg has more on the meter matters.

"You have no idea when or if anything was working on it." Andy Erwin says he never checked his electric meter. He says he never paid that much attention to his electric "bill". But this one caught his eye. A $341 bill in the middle of winter.

PSO says his meter had been malfunctioning since November of 2004 and they were now charging him retro-actively for the electricity that the meter hadn't registered. "Do they have the right to do that, just to go back and say, okay we put in a new meter and here's the usage for one day and now we're going to back-pay you or back-charge you 5 months and you owe us this amount of money, right now."

PSO spokesman Stan Whiteford says, technically, yes. "Maybe sometimes the customer might think we should get this for free, but that's not the case, and Oklahoma law says that's not the case."

Obviously, PSO will never know exactly how much electricity Erwin used. So they say they figured his average use, and reduced that by 25 percent and say they only charged for 5 months, not the 15 months the meter was malfunctioning.And they say it doesn't have to be paid right away. "Anybody who gets that kind of back-bill situation and has that kind of amount or balance, we'll work out a payment plan no problem."

Erwin says he'll have to take their word for it. "Everything is at their mercy. They came out and fixed the meter. We're not home, we didn't get a call about it. We're finding out about everything after the fact."

PSO says the Erwin's meter died slowly, which is why it took so long for them to notice the problem. They say with roughly half-a-million meters in the Tulsa area, it's virtually impossible to test each one every month.