LG&E customers out in the cold after costly billing error


by Chase Cain


Posted on November 23, 2009 at 12:45 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 23 at 12:59 AM

Some LG&E customers are calling it the perfect storm.

The utility company is cracking down on certain customers cutting off their power.

At the same time, LG&E wants to collect on a billing mistake from last Spring and it all affects a few thousand people who already struggle to pay their bill.

LG&E says it's just a coincidence that all this is happening at once.

The power company changed their cut-off policy to match that of Kentucky Utilities.

Basically, people receiving help from community ministries have to make payment arrangements or face having the lights turned off.

But customers getting that help say this is a bad time to make that change.

Karen, her 12-year-old daughter and her son could face a cold winter because Karen says they're getting the cold shoulder from LG&E.

"It’s sad, because myself, I’m struggling now. Myself raising my kids with Christmas coming along, the high heating bills, it's just ridiculous what they're doing to everybody," said Karen.

When she got her bill a couple of weeks ago, it was twice the normal amount and way more than the single mother can afford.

"If I don't pay the full amount they will cancel my budget and they will shut me off in November when it's getting cold."

LG&E realized last Spring they gave double credits to about 6000 customers who get help paying their heating bills from community ministries. And now, they want to collect on the mistake. It means a $200  bill for Karen and she already relies on Highland Community Ministries to stay warm in the winter.

"I’m not going to be able to go back to them until next year," she said.

Karen says she’s stuck. At the same time LG&E is getting more strict about cutting off power to people getting financial help from local ministries, a perfect storm for Karen.

"I think they need to take the loss, take the loss and credit everybody's account that they did this to."

LG&E says they do work out payment plans with customers on a case-by-case basis.

They also say human error caused that billing mistake and it shouldn't happen again.

But on the bright side LG&E says natural gas costs are way down this winter so that should help people who have struggled with high heating bills.