PARKVILLE, Md. (WJZ)– An announcement from Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) has some customers outraged. Tens of thousands of people who lost power during Hurricane Irene may be charged for more power than they used.
Wiejia Jiang explains.
When Hurricane Irene ripped through Maryland, her wrath knocked out power to an unprecedented number of BGE customers.
With 750,000 in the dark, nearly every staff member was on storm duty, including meter readers. They did not collect usage levels for 150,000 customers who are getting estimated bills this month.
“It upset me because we were without power for seven days,” BGE customer Rebecca Snowden said. “How can you estimate a bill when we didn’t have anything for seven days?”
BGE says they use historical data to figure out how much a house typically uses that time of year.
But for Snowden and many of her Parkville neighbors who didn’t have power for a week, that’s not enough.
“If I get a service, I pay for it at the time of service,” she said. “If I don’t get it, I don’t pay for it.”
BGE is sending crews to every household to take an actual reading. If you used less than what you were billed for, you’ll get that money back in your next statement.
“There’s always the possibility the estimate could be higher or lower that your actual usage,” BGE spokeswoman Linda Foy said.
Customers like Joann Eick want to know why meter readers were pulled at all.
“A meter reader does exactly that,” Eick said. “I don’t think a meter reader can fix an electrical power outage problem. They’re not trained or designed to do that, so I don’t know why they couldn’t have come out.”
“We need them out in the field, sitting by down wires and keeping our customers and others safe,” Foy said.
Though inconvenient for some now, BGE says they needed the help because in a storm this severe, safety is always the priority.