Homeowner overpays $11,000 on power bill in meter mix-up - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

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Homeowner overpays $11,000 on power bill in meter mix-up

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By Diane Walker - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) – It's an $11,000 mistake that could happen to you involving Dominion Virginia Power and a meter mix-up.

The mix-up went undetected for seven years. One family's meter got crossed with their neighbor's. Both families turned to NBC12 for help after Dominion told them, how it planned to fix it. 

"We are energy conscious. We both work. We don't have kids. We're not here all day. We just can't quite understand," said Kevin Blunt. 

Kevin and Debbie Blunt pay an exorbitant price for power they say. More than $300-500 electric bills, while spending thousands on upgrades over the years to cut costs.

"Here's our gas furnace that we put in, also in the back is gas hot water heater," said Kevin. "We've also put motion switches in a few places. The light comes on and when we go, it goes out." 

They even trade comfort for savings, lowering their thermostat to 63 degrees at night and shutting off the heat during the day. 

"We're sitting over here with robes and coats," said Debbie Blunt. 

But the high electric bills kept coming and Dominion Power, they say, started asking strange questions. 

"The last call we made, I was even questioned about my dishwasher usage. Did I cut my breaker off when I left," said Debbie. 

The last electric bill was too much and they insisted Dominion give them an explanation. 

"$680.29 after putting in a brand new heat pump upstairs, gas hot water heater, gas furnace," said Debbie.  

While next door Frank Morato rarely turns off lights. His bill is about $125 a month on the budget plan. 

"I've got three security lights here. They do not produce any heat. But they're on from dusk till dawn," he said. 

The Blunts made persistent calls asking Dominion Virginia Power to explain the high bills despite their energy saving changes. A trouble shooter left a note informing them of crossed meters. The Blunts have been paying Frank's high electrical usage, and Frank got a break for years.   

"This has been going on for seven years and I didn't know I had the problem," Frank said. 

Frank never considered conservation until he learned the bills the Blunts paid for seven and a half years, should have been his. He's making major upgrades now.   

"The [air conditioning] unit was big enough before but it was like trying to push all that air through a toothpaste tube and it was just really inefficient but I didn't realize it," said Frank. 

The Blunts overpaid by $11,000. Dominion power initially refused to give a full refund, and it wanted Frank to pay five months of repayments. They both called NBC12. 

"They didn't want to go back past 18 months and then they said three years. Our position has always been a mistake was made. It was seven and a half years," said Kevin. 

In a statement Dominion apologized, and said they carefully manage customer account and meter numbers. It said the mix-up is rare. Dominion goes on to say, the customer they overcharged will get back all his money, $11,464 and Frank, doesn't have to pay anything.    

"I just can't say enough for channel 12," said Frank. 

"I am tickled to death that I called you. Virginia Power never acknowledged that they spoke to you," said Kevin. "Hopefully we'll be billed for the right electricity and if it's too high, we'll switch back numbers to Frank. Ha. Ha." 

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