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Mon Power ordered to read meters once a month

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — The state Public Service Commission has ordered FirstEnergy subsidiaries Mon Power and Potomac Edison to begin conducting monthly meter readings as part of a ruling issued Wednesday.

Citing the need for more accurate billing, the ruling concludes that FirstEnergy must make the switch from bi-monthly to monthly meter reading as soon as possible and no later than July 1, 2015. The ruling states that this deadline will allow the company time to “procure additional equipment, hire and train new meter readers and make any necessary changes to its billing platform.”

The additional meter reading will add $5 million to FirstEnergy’s cost of service in West Virginia, according to the ruling.

FirstEnergy spokesman Todd Meyers said Wednesday that the company is still reviewing the order but that it will “take steps to comply with” the commission’s decision.

The commission began an investigation into FirstEnergy’s billing practices in June 2013 in response to a number of customer complaints, according to PSC spokeswoman Susan Small.

FirstEnergy’s subsidiaries have been reading meters on a bi-monthly basis in West Virginia for a number of years, Meyers said.

He said the company has generally alternated meter readings one month with an estimate the next month based on usage from the previous year.

The problems that led to Wednesday’s ruling likely stemmed from customers being billed based on estimates in consecutive months, Meyers said.

He said FirstEnergy often has to pull its meter readers during inclement or severe weather either due to hazardous road conditions or because additional staffing is needed elsewhere.

Consecutive estimates due to missed readings have resulted in “large true-up bills” for some customers, Meyers said, which he said FirstEnergy has been working to try to address…

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