By B.N. Frank
WLOS News 13 in North Carolina aired a story last week that is typical of what many Duke customers have experienced after AMI “Smart” Meters were installed:
“You can see I leave the door open because I come out here every day to check it,” Baker said. “I love this because it time stamps it. I know exactly. I can prove every day I’ve taken a photo of my meter and what the reading was on it,” Baker continued as he showed us his photo gallery.
It started months ago, when his Duke Energy bill shot up to more than $1,400, sparking frustration.
“It showed a total usage of 12,777 kilowatts,” Baker said.
That was for three months, and, if true, the Bakers were using a lot of energy.
“This was saying that we were using 140 kilowatt hours a day for 90 days in a row,” Baker said.
They would have to wash and dry 10 loads of laundry, run the dishwasher 10 times and have 30 refrigerators plugged in every day for those 90 days to use that much power.
Baker refused to pay, tracking the problem back to when the smart meter was installed. News 13 took Baker’s bill to Duke Energy.
“Changing the meter out won’t make their bill go up,” explained Jason Walls, the local government community relations manager for Duke Energy in Asheville…
The state’s utility commission said between January and May, it received 30 consumer complaints related to new smart meters. In a third of the cases, the utility commission requested Duke go back and test the meters, and not once did Duke or its contractors find a meter out of compliance.
After months of back and forth, Duke threatened to cut off the Bakers’ power, insisting a water leak was to blame for the large bill, meaning the increase was Baker’s fault and responsibility. During that time, Duke also changed Baker’s meter several times.
“You combine that with a mess of throwing five or six different meters in within a few months period and no one knows what the readings were on them, you end up with issues like this,” Baker said.
His bills showed Duke didn’t have clear readings and never received a signal from the Baker’s meter. Duke estimated the Bakers’ usage, which the state allows as an exception, not the rule. Estimates must be based on recent usage, according to state law, but even that math didn’t add up.
I know we owe Duke something because of the three-month period where we didn’t receive a bill, but we don’t owe them this. This is outrageous,” Baker said.
Outrageous but not uncommon with Duke Energy AMI “Smart” Meters. Duke has a long history of denying that their “Smart” Meters are to blame for anything. In regard to high bills:
- Orlando, FL 2014: “Did your Duke Energy bill go up recently? Then read this story.”
- Tampa, FL, 2014: “One-month spike in electric bill angers Duke Energy customer”
- Ohio and Kentucky, 2017: “Why Your Duke Bill’s So High Despite Warm Month”
- Indiana, 2017: “Early 2017 was ‘perfect storm’ for Duke Energy. President says several issues led to blizzard of complaints”
- North Carolina and Indiana, 2017: “Duke Reports Errors, Weather Lead to Billing Complaints”
- South Carolina, 2017: “Spartanburg Co. grandmother hit with $62K power bill”
- Florida – September 17, 2017: “Duke Energy bills with massive increases panic Florida customers
- North Carolina, 2018:“Duke customer says his bills are way up after installation of smart meter”
- Indiana, 2018 “Duke Energy customers question newly installed smart meters”
A 2017 Dutch study revealed that “Smart” Meters caused measurement errors 30%-582%. Duke Energy doesn’t seem to be willing to acknowledge this, though.
In fact, a Duke spokesperson told News 13 this of their “Smart” Meters:
“It’s a lot safer because we don’t have as many trucks on the roads in our communities taking measurements and readings all the time,” Walls said.
That may be one of the lamest excuses for “Smart” Meters ever. Then again – maybe that’s the best Duke spokespeople can do after 8 years of problematic meters.
If Duke was really that concerned about too many trucks on the road, they could allow customers to submit their own meter readings or Duke could estimate measurements instead of sending meter readers out of the road every month.
Many other utility companies also deny that “Smart” Meters are to blame for outrageously high bills and other issues. In fact, currently Maine utility customers are in a class action lawsuit against Central Maine Power about outrageously high bills.
If Duke Energy is your utility company and you’re unhappy about that, you are not alone: