Attorney General Tim Griffin is responding to concerns after hundreds of complaints about Summit Utilities bills
LITTLE ROCK, Ark — Hundreds of Summit Utilities customers have seen their gas bills skyrocket, leaving some Arkansas residents frustrated and calling for answers. Arkansas leaders like Attorney General Tim Griffin responded to the concern after his office received hundreds of complaints.
Griffin said his office has received 650 calls and emails since last week about high energy bills from Summit Utilities. Griffin said on Facebook he’s heard from some customers that they were being overcharged due to a bug in Summit’s billing system.
Attorney General Tim Griffin deals with inflated energy bills from Summit Utilities
“She was one [Summit] from CenterPoint, so they’re migrating their computer system, they’ve sent out some estimated bills, and maybe that’s what caused the different billing levels,” Griffin said.
Brian Bowen, senior director of external affairs at Summit Utilities, said the data processing issue is no longer an issue.
“The data processing issue that some of our customers may have seen is a result of a transition from the acquisition of Summit and CenterPoint Energy. In November, we began migrating our billing from CenterPoint to Summit, and on January 11, as part of our Faze In, we went live with a valued feature,” said Bowen. “When we activated this feature, we had meter pools that were not transferred to the new system. We identified and fixed this problem.”
Bowen added that anyone who has received an estimated bill will receive a corrected bill within the next day or more. However, Bowen said most of her customers should see a “slight reduction in their bill” as there will be “about a 4% variance”.
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Bowen said the real problem affecting her customers’ bills is gas costs.
“The only factor contributing to the increase in customer bills is gas costs, commodity gas costs have quadrupled nationwide recently,” Bowen said.
Bowen said Summit buys gas and passes it on to the customer, and the company can’t make a profit from it.
Bowen also said the reason the gas price rose was due to outside companies.
“We’ve seen significant winter storms, so demand has increased, and the war in Ukraine has also had a significant impact on gas prices,” Bowen said.
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Griffin said he spoke to Summit Utilities CEO Kurt Adams about it.
“Summit Utilities has spoken about the recent rise in gas prices, which I understand is that prices are going up and prices are going down. But the question is does that fully explain all those climbs, and that’s what I’m investigating,” Griffin said.
Griffin added that he spoke to Summit about what they could do to find more reasons why the spike was being caused.
“I’m going to take 10 sample bills and look at the increase and have my reps call their people at Summit and we’re going to really get into the details and figure out bill by bill what explains the increase,” Greif said.
Griffin said he’s also following up other questions about the bills increase.
“At the end of the day I’m focused on why the bill increases for some people and not others because you’d think if it was just a function of rising prices everyone would have higher bills in general and it’s not like that the case,” Griffin said.
Ricky Lindley said his January bill was just over $200, which he said was more than his usual amount. He hopes the state will investigate further into the cause of the increase as it hurts his wallet.
“I’m on National Security on a regular income, I’m 58 years old and I would never have dreamed of seeing a gas bill higher than my electric bill; it was less and less,” Lindley said.
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Bowen said that alongside customers turning down their meters to save energy, there are utility programs customers can use to get help paying their bills.
Griffin said he would have further discussions with Summit about increasing the bills and they would provide updates.