To the Editor:
Re: Heights officials demand electricity refund (Aug. 17 KDH)
I want to thank (Herald reporter) Brian Bradley for informing us that Oncor and Direct Energy overbilled the city of Harker Heights about $212,000 for electricity. It did not come as a surprise to me that they were actually caught red-handed as they double metered the library’s electricity from July 2008 to June 2013, according to city documents.
I remember going home for lunch one day to find a strange man walking toward my home.
When I asked what he wanted, he stated he was there to put a new meter on my home. I replied that it would have been nice if Oncor had informed me about it.
I urged the Texas Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to request that Oncor notify people in a timely fashion. (Oncor placed a billboard on I-35 to warn Harker Heights residents of the coming meters, but they did not warn city of Killeen residents.)
I took petitions with hundreds of signatures to the Texas PUC. The signatures were of Killeen citizens who had outrageous electric bills after the Oncor smart meters were installed.
One elderly woman lived in a trailer and had a monthly electric bill of over $1,000 after installation of the Oncor smart meter. (An electrician who serviced my home told me his electric bill was only $38.) She was in tears as she asked for relief at an Oncor public hearing event.
Citizens organized a march around the Oncor building in downtown Killeen. We wore red, and carried signs that spelled RED for Realistic Electricity Demands. A gentleman emerged from the Oncor building, and asked us if we were marching to protest the smart meters. We stated that we were not protesting the smart meters, just the outrageously large bills we received following the installation of the smart meters.
I learned that hundreds of Killeen citizens appealed to the city of Killeen for relief after their electricity bills went up following the installation of the smart meters on their houses. I also learned that the City Council gave Oncor a contractual raise using city taxpayers’ money during the smart meter installation.
As Harker Heights fights with Oncor to get its money refunded, I am wondering how many of us will get our money back, as it was obvious we were overcharged. Oncor put the blame on deregulation by the electricity providers. Now, I am not so sure that is the complete truth.
Dr. Claudia L. Brown, Ph.D.
Former Killeen City Council member