Company not charged for electricity for five months
CB Fabricating hit with $29,300 bill
July 25, 2014
By Ken de la Bastide, The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON — Ever since CB Fabricating moved into a new addition at their business, there has been a problem with electric bills received from the city of Anderson.
The company received no bill for electricity usage from the Anderson utility office for five months, despite numerous attempts they say they made to correct the problem.
City officials now acknowledge there has been a problem with the metering system that is supposed to transmit data to a central location.
Julia Kattner, client manager for CB Fabricating, said that in January the firm received a bill for a meter charge of $27.50 which included a disconnect notice. In February the bill was for $55.98.
Kattner said the bill had been $1,500 before the company expanded its operations.
“We received two bills in December, one for $1,812 and the other for $1,186,” she said. “For two days we called and got no return calls. Finally we were told to disregard the bill for $1,186 and to pay immediately the bill for $1,812.”
Kattner said at one time the company received four bills, all with different addresses.
Chris Barkdull, owner of the company, said that for five months they received no bill from the city.
“I called and said I needed a bill for January and February and asked who was in charge,” he said.
On June 18, the company received a bill in the amount of $29,301, Barkdull said.
He said after leaving messages at the utility office on two occasions, the company received a telephone call.
“I asked for a breakdown of the bill for every month,” Barkdull said. “I was told all the bills were estimated.”
Kattner said the company made an immediate payment of $5,000 on the bill and agreed to make $2,000 monthly payments on the outstanding balance.
Barkdull said the July bill, which was also an estimate, was for $4,176 and the additional $2,000.
“We’ve received an estimated bill for seven months,” he said.
Pete Heuer, chairman of the Anderson Board of Public Works, said there is a communication error from the meter that didn’t transmit the data.
“The meter change took place in November,” he said. “We’re working to figure out why this took place. We’re trying to determine if other customers are experiencing similar problems.”
Heuer said the meter at CB Fabricating did capture usage data, but it wasn’t transmitted for billing purposes.
He said it’s been a problem for less than one percent of the customers and the city has been pro-active in replacing the faulty meters, recognizing there is a problem.
Concerning the customer service problem in the utility office, Heuer said the office is being restructured to improve customer service within the next month.
Heuer said if customers have a problem with their bill, they should contact the utility office.
“We need assistance from our customers,” he said.
Anderson Mayor Kevin Smith said the city is working to bring utility office operations into the 21st century, noting that records had been kept on 3x5-inch index cards.
“We need customers to notify us when they see a problem,” Smith said.
City replacing electronic metering system
In 2006 the city entered into a contract with Wisconsin-based Johnson Control to replace the 23,500 water and 37,000 electric meters at a cost of $21 million. Those meters were supposed to relay electronically the amount of water and electricity used for monthly billing purposes and to communicate problems directly to the utility office.
Problems began to surface in 2008 and increased in 2009; accuracy was on only 80 percent of the meter readings.
The city began working with the equipment manufacturer, Alcara, to replace or repair the meters at no cost to the city. The meters are being replaced by city crews. All the meters are expected to be replaced or repaired by Aug. 26, 2015.
Monthly bill dumps by $2,500
Barkdull said he believes the increase in the monthly bill following the businesses expansion of $2,500 per month is unfair.
“The new equipment we purchased costs $3 per hour to run,” he said. “It doesn’t run around the clock. I feel the bill cost of $13,000 over the past few months is excessive and the city can’t give an accounting for the charges.”
Barkdull said the additional $2,000 per month will require that the company not pay off recent equipment purchases as quickly as possible.
“I try to operate my business as ethically as possible,” he said. “I have been monitoring the charges daily. I feel like someone at the city is not doing their jobs.”
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.
More electric billing problems CB Fabricating didn't receive an electric bill from the city of Anderson. The company received estimated bills from January through June in the amount of $29,301. CB Fabricating paid $5,000 immediately and agreed to make $2,000 per month payments. Owner Chris Barkdull questions the monthly average bill climbing from $1,500 per month to $4,100 per month following expansion in 2013. City officials urge residents receiving an estimated bill or not being charged to contact the utility office at 648-6187.