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‘It’s not possible in my mind’: Independence residents question accuracy of energy bills

By Brian Johnson

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    INDEPENDENCE, Missouri (KMBC) — Utility customers in Independence are raising concerns over potentially inflated bills for energy they aren’t using.

Independence Power and Light, which does not use automated meter reading, serves 67,058 customers.

That means a real person has to check every meter, every month.

But the utility says that doesn’t always happen — and it still sends out bills every month.

Customers share experiences Colin says he’s happy to pay for electricity he uses.

But when Independence Power and Light charged his barn the same as his home, he thought something was wrong.

“Not a guesstimate, not an estimate. It should be what it is,” he said. “Now I am tracking it. April 1st, I took a picture of the meter, April 31, I’m going to take a picture again.”

Colin’s barn, equipped with a few LED lights and a battery trickle charge, was billed the same as his household of five. His home is complete with an electric range, dryer, hot water, and two HVACs.

Paul Spiel, another Independence Power and Light customer, found his electric bill was twice the usual amount last month. This was despite his home being unoccupied.

“I was pretty upset trying to figure out what on earth they would be charging me for,” he said.

When he started asking questions, the city sent him an email, saying it’s short-staffed.

As of 2014, the city ordinance allows the utility to bill using meter estimates.

“I would think in this day and age that the billing should be electronic,” said Spiel. “It should be something that’s verifiable. It should be something that you can dispute easily and know accurately.”

The utility’s spokesperson did not disclose how many meter readers are employed to check these meters.

What you can do to get help So what can you do if you’re worried about high bills?

The utility does have a program where you can self-report your actual usage.

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