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Meter mix-up leads to $500 Xcel electricity bill

Xcel defends billing practice
Posted at 10:01 PM, Jan 03, 2020

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DENVER -- When the power company reads your meter, you assume they are reading the right one. But Daniel (who asked that we not use his last name to protect his privacy) found out the hard way that is not always the case.

"Normally, my bill is about $100 to $200, depending on the time of year," he said, showing his December bill jumped from $148 to $531 with no increase in use and no explanation. "I was like, well, that can't be right. Obviously, someone made a mistake."

He emailed and called Xcel and said he soon learned that the bill was correct, but there had been a mistake. For months, Xcel had been reading the wrong meter.

"They said, 'It looks like maybe your meter was not your meter at all. It looks like your meter was probably your neighbor's meter and your neighbor's meter was probably your meter,'" he said, saying the company claimed they had under-billed him — likely since he moved into the house in 2018, but they could only charge him for the last six months under state guidelines.

"Why do I have to pay for an error that I didn't make?" he asked. "Shouldn't it be their responsibility to check to verify the meter?"

Contact7 reached out to Xcel and no one would speak on camera or about this specific case, with a spokeswoman stating, "The Colorado Public Utilities Commission has detailed guidelines that spell out how we address customer billing and errors."

A PUC spokesman confirmed that in cases of under-collection, Xcel can charge for a period of up to six months.

The question Daniel has is if it's an energy giant's mistake, should the little guy really have to pay for it?

"Xcel made this mistake, and they're a huge company that can afford to absorb it," he said, saying he thinks the company needs more checks in place to make sure this doesn't happen to others. "I don't really have a choice in who I'm going to use for an energy company, you know. I gotta use them. If you don't pay it they're just going to cut off your electricity."