Republican state Sen. Jack Latvala is calling on Duke Energy to abandon idea of charging its customers higher rates due to expanded billing cycles.
As Ivan Penn of the Tampa Bay Times explained Wednesday:
.. Duke is reorganizing the way it reads meters. As a result, Duke is temporarily extending its billing cycle, typically a month, by as many as 12 extra days. … The additional days mean that about 267,000 customers face bigger bills
Duke charges customers $11.34 for every 100 kilowatt hours of usage up to 1,000 kilowatt hours. But above that, it charges $13.70 for every 100 kilowatt hours. … Multiply the difference between the standard rate and the higher fee and Duke could collect hundreds of thousands of dollars — for nothing.
The change in Duke’s billing policy is not sitting well with Latvala, one of the leading members of Tampa Bay’s legislative delegation. Thursday, Latvala fired off a letter to Alex Glenn, president of Duke Energy Florida, urging him to drop the new billing program.
“While it is understandable that customers are charged higher rates when they actually use more electricity, the practice of pushing customers into higher usage brackets because the company extends its billing cycle is simply no way to treat people,” writes Sen. Latvala.
To Latvala, the issue comes down to morals.
“It might be legal for utility companies to squeeze additional money from customers in this manner, it certainly isn’t moral.”
A Duke spokesperson earlier told the Tampa Bay Times that the utility is only following state rules. Customers should contact customer service for assistance if they have trouble making payments because of the change, she said.