Duke Energy defends costly deposits on customers' monthly bills
Posted February 24, 2014
Updated February 25, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Hundreds of Duke Energy Progress customers are still frustrated and asking questions after a 5 On Your Side investigation found that unexpected and steep deposits of up to $1,000 were tacked on to their monthly bills without explanation.
Residential customers said they were annoyed that the company did not warn people about the deposits before they appeared on the bills and that it did not offer written explanation with the bill. Duke disputes that assertion, saying all bills have written statements warning customers to pay on time to avoid late fees.
Duke offered many reasons why these deposits were added, including making multiple late payments, even if by only one day, payments that didn't go through or shut off notices for non-payment.
Customers blamed "late" payments on the lengthy processing times, but Duke said patrons should be aware of the varying cut-off times for various methods of payment and recommends use only authorized payment methods listed on its website.
But the sudden deposits weren't the only thing customers were worried about.
Customers also expressed concerned with the company's policy of conducting automatic credit history checks to determine whether a deposit is required, something Duke said only applies to new residential and business customers, and extremely high power bills even without the added deposit.
Duke said the higher energy costs are mainly because of two reasons:
1) All-time usage records in January because of this year's extreme cold, and
2) A rate increase that took effect in June which is now showing up because of extreme weather.
Duke Energy Progress customers can verify usage issues online by comparing this year's consumption to rates from last January and February. They can also find information about how to assess energy usage and figure out ways to save.
Finally, Duke Energy Progress recommends customers who would like to receive predictable monthly bills to enroll in the company's equal payment plan. That's where the company can estimate what customers' bills will be and divide the amount in equal payments over the year. Adjustments, which the company says are usually minor, are applied over the following year.
Customized energy reports are also available on the company's website.