ALVIN, Texas – With our extreme heat air conditioners are working overtime to cool our homes and your bills are likely higher. We expect that in the summer but one Alvin woman called Amy when she got an electric bill for more than $4,000. Learn what our team discovered and what you need to know if this happens to you.
Customer works daily to keep her electricity use down
Angela Davis is a creature of habit. She washes her clothes at the crack of dawn and keeps her A/C on 78 degrees during the day.
“And then between the hours of three and eight, I don’t use any major appliances,” said Davis.
Davis has good habits when it comes to conserving electricity. Her monthly electric bills with Gexa Energy where she is on balanced billing are as steading and consistent as her four-legged best friend Bullet.
Everything has been reliable and steady until she got her June bill for $4,329.
“I looked at that and go, ‘Oh my God, what is going on here?’”
She called Gexa repeatedly and could not get ahold of anyone. No answers-- just more bills.
Electricity usage was estimated
We called Texas-New Mexico Power, the company that owns the lines and meters where Davis lives in Alvin. A company rep told us Davis’ old 3G meter lost communication at the end of February. It wasn’t replaced until two months later at the end of April. Her usage was estimated for the months it wasn’t transmitting her readings.
The problem, according to Texas-New Mexico Power, is that the employee who took off the old meter incorrectly recorded the last reading and that caused the huge bill from her provider Gexa.
“Unfortunately, human clerical errors do occur,” the Texas-New Mexico spokesperson wrote in an email.
“I’m on a fixed income on Social Security disability. My husband works, but still, you know-- we have a budget,” said Davis.
According to the Public Utility Commission, if your electric company sends you a bill that is based on an estimation of how much electricity you used and not an actual meter read they have to note that on your bill. When they do actually read your meter if they see you used more than estimated, they are not allowed to bill you in arrears for more than 180 days.
If they overbilled you, no matter how far back, they have to adjust your bill accordingly. When we reached out to Gexa, the company wiped Davis’ balance clean.
Check your auto payment bills
The takeaway for you is that you should look at your bills often. Even if you are on auto-pay, you should be looking at your electric bills every month. Retail electrical providers are required to let us know if they are estimating how much electricity we have used or if they actually got a meter reading.
If you see that what you are reading is estimated, that is your first clue. Something may be wrong with your meter and you can actually be proactive by calling your electric company and requesting an actual read.
Texas New Mexico Power statement
Ultimately, all billing goes through REPs in Texas. TNMP reports usage to REP (Gexa). A 3G meter was installed at this location, which lost communication on 2/28/22 due to AT&T sunset. An estimated read was used for the March and April cycle bills. The 3G meter was changed out to a new communicating meter on 4/28/22 using an actual read on the date of the change out. The May cycle read was originally estimated high due to a clerical error. The estimated May cycle read was canceled on 6/27/22 and rebilled with an actual read on 6/30/22. TNMP is in the process of changing meters. Unfortunately, human clerical errors do occur, but we are investigating.
We learned that the customer’s utility had changed out the customer’s meter and, in the process, sent us on multiple occasions incorrect usage data. We pride ourselves on customer service and have been able to promptly rectify the situation with the customer to her satisfaction. Although privacy requirements prevent us from sharing all the final details, we encourage you to follow up with her regarding this resolution. Thanks again for bringing this to our attention.