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Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 03:28 pm

METER MADNESS

Two City Water, Light and Power retirees have reimbursed the city more than $12,000 for power bills going back as far as a decade.

The retirees had been paying half what they should have for electricity, thanks to mechanical meters that had been running at half speed due to tampered gears, said Eric Hobbie, CWLP chief utility engineer.

Utility administrators became concerned in recent months as meters installed during the 1970s were replaced with modern electronic meters. After hearing scuttlebutt about the old meters, administrators audited utility bills citywide, looking for low usage, and found a half-dozen meters that were running at half-speed.

“We went back as far as our billing system would go,” Hobbie said.

Some of the homes had been sold to unsuspecting folks who no doubt marveled at the efficacy of insulation. In four cases, Hobbie said, former CWLP workers who had lived in homes with tampered meters had died, and the city chose not to seek reimbursement from widows. In two cases, retirees last summer reimbursed the city, with one bill totaling $5,412 and the other $7,150. Both retirees said that they had no idea that their meters were running slow, and the city would have had a tough time coming up with hard evidence to the contrary, Hobbie said.

“Once they paid in full, we did not seek any additional action,” Hobbie said. “We have gone through a lot of meters and have found nothing else.”
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