Duke Energy is using a controversial method to calculate its electric bills, and the utility’s customers have paid more than $700,000.
The company has been using a “double bill” model that shows customers paid an extra $1,000 to cover their bills during the week of Jan. 3, and $1 to cover the week after that.
The extra charge would have been the same for each month in the year, but the utility was allowed to increase the bill for each additional billing period to reflect the extra charge, which the utility says is a cost-saving measure.
The double bill model was first reported by The Associated Press, which found that customers who billed on Friday for the week before the Jan. 4 bill would have seen a $300 increase on top of their $1 increase, according to an analysis by the AP.
The bill would then be adjusted for the month of Jan., which is when Duke Energy was allowed by state regulators to increase its electric bill for the year.
The Associated Press investigation also found that some customers who received a double bill were charged $2,000 for their additional bill, which could add up to more than half a million dollars.
The AP found that a majority of the double bill customers received $1.2 million in additional bills for the same amount of energy.
That includes three customers who were billed $3,000 each for their electric bill, according the AP’s analysis.
The utility did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the AP analysis.
The double bill is not new, but Duke Energy says it’s the only way to calculate it.
The Double Bill Model is not uncommon, according Toobin.
“You’ve got to be very careful in that the double billing is done in a way that does not allow you to know exactly how much money you’ve actually been billed, and you have to be quite certain that you don’t pay more than the bill was originally due, and then you have the option to double the amount you owe,” he said.
Duke Energy’s new double bill method is a controversial one, and many customers have been angry with the utility over the extra charges.
A number of people have filed lawsuits against Duke Energy over the double bills.
The bills have also prompted some utility customers to file lawsuits, including one that claims Duke Energy owes $100,000 in back taxes and penalties for not paying the extra bill.
Dukedom has said the double-bill method was used to comply with state rules.