Maine Gas Utility “Accidentally” Discounts Big Customers

August 24th, 2017:

American Energy Coalition – August 24th, 2017

That’s their story and they’re sticking to it.

“Regulators discovered late last year that southern Maine natural gas utility Maine Natural Gas had billed some of its largest customers 10 times less than it should have, raising concerns about impacts on the utility’s other customers,” the Bangor Daily News reports.

“The Maine Public Utilities Commission on Wednesday issued a notice that it has opened an investigation into the Maine Natural Gas underbilling, which the commission said ranged from 2002 to 2016 and affected 11 different large accounts for varying amounts of time.

“Regulators said the problem stemmed from bad readings of the company’s meters for large customers. The meters could be set to display gas volumes in hundreds of cubic feet or thousands of cubic feet.

“Typically, for smaller customers, those readings are in the smaller unit of measure. In some cases, the utility found readings were wrongly reported in hundreds of cubic feet, reducing that customer’s bill by a factor of 10. Regulators did not estimate how much the utility underbilled in total.”

Presumably, they also didn’t estimate how the same missing zero could’ve went unnoticed among 11 different companies for a period of up to 14 years.

It all speaks to a point that the American Energy Coalition has made time and time again; natural gas billing is a labyrinthine maze of obscure language, left-field surcharges, and figures few can understand — apparently including the utilities themselves! Heating oil bills, on the other hand, are spelled out in simple dollars and cents per gallon.

What could be crazier than natural gas’ already cockamamie financial apparatus? How about the fact that it’s Maine’s smaller natural gas customers who might end up having to cough up the difference for the gas utilities’ big mistake!?

“It remains an open question whether further adjustments to cost of gas or other rates may be warranted to correct inequities to other customers,” the Maine Public Utilities Commission wrote.

You really can’t make this stuff up.

Read the full Bangor Daily News story here.

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