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Bill seeks to restrict how Duke Energy alters billing cycles

Rep. Dwight Dudley said that there is no line Duke Energy will not cross.

Rep. Dwight Dudley said that there is no line Duke Energy will not cross.

Tampa Bay area lawmakers are set to file a second bipartisan measure targeting Duke Energy Florida with legislation that would restrict how the utility alters customers' billing cycles.

Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, teamed up with Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, for companion bills in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Announcement of their legislation follows a bipartisan bill filed Monday to repeal the Nuclear Cost Recovery Clause, or so-called nuclear advance fee, and require Duke to refund its 1.7 million customers for billions in costs for two projects that did not materialize.

The legislation by Dudley and Dean would address a separate practice Duke employed this year.

Reports in the Tampa Bay Times detailed how Duke was making changes to its meter-reading routes. Those changes led Duke to temporarily extend as many as 267,000 customers' billing cycles, typically a month, by as many as 12 days. Customer bills revealed additional charges in some cases of $100 or more for the extended days and, for some, the additional days bumped them into a higher rate class.

That's because Duke charges customers $11.34 for every 100 kilowatt hours of usage up to 1,000 kilowatt hours. But above that, it charges $13.70 for every 100 kilowatt hours.

After public outcry, Duke refunded the overcharges, which have exceeded $1.3 million.

"Whether they are collecting billions for non-existent power plants, overcharging churches and small businesses, or extending their billing cycles during the dog days of summer, Duke has proven, time and time again, that there is no line that they will not cross," Dudley said.

Contact Ivan Penn at ipenn@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2332. Follow @Consumers_Edge.

Bill seeks to restrict how Duke Energy alters billing cycles 12/09/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 9, 2014 6:48pm]
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