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Volume 18, Issue 2
February 2020

NEWS HOME

Eye-popping PGE bill!

Portland General Electric is required by Oregon’s Department of Energy to offer “equal pay.” If you request that, they are supposed to calculate your usage based on previous bills and then charge you an equal amount every month. This is supposed to be re-evaluated each year to make sure you’re paying the right amount.

pge bill
Corson indicated that he'd like to
see the bill design improved. He says there's a process underway but he's not sure when it will be implemented

When I first moved into the new house in the spring of 2017, I paid the monthly bill for seven months before I requested the equal pay plan. My “actual usage” bill never fell below $100, but for some reason, my equal pay amount was set at $86. I guess I assumed that they knew what they were doing and I welcomed the lower amount. Then last June, they adjusted it up to $187. Well, that seemed reasonable too, because we had installed air conditioning. (We heat with gas.)

Today I opened my email bill to see they wanted $1035! After several calls and emails, here’s what I learned. Their previous billing system wasn’t able to take usage into account (?) for equal pay accounts. They switched to a newer system last summer. According to PGE spokesperson Steve Corson, the new system has an automatic review of equal pay every four months, to prevent this happening again.

However, my debt from the underbilling was just piling up in the system, month after month. Although the front of the bill showed a $0 balance forward, on the back of the bill was the “Total Account Balance” that had been steadily accruing.  

pge bill

When I posted about this on the CMN Facebook page, as I expected there were many people who had been affected by this system glitch. Few of them had the big bill that I got but many people received “true-up” bills over the last few months.

Oregon’s Utility Regulations say (ORS 757.077) that if a public utility determines that they have underbilled a customer, they can “only collect amounts incorrectly billed during the 12-month period ending on the date on which the public utility issued the last incorrect bill; and (B) May not collect amounts incorrectly billed more than two years before the date on which the public utility identified the incorrect bill.

It’s unclear if this is a violation of the law, or if I have any legal recourse. The underbilling began in March 2018, and went on until May 2019. They are going to send me an itemized account of all charges and payments on this account.

In any case, they offered to spread the payment onto my future bills for 12, 24, or 36 months to make it easier to pay, with no interest.

Portland General urges customers to call Customer Service at 503-228-6322 if they are in this situation. You too should probably request an itemized accounting!

 

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Published monthly by Cedar Mill News LLC
Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
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3270 NW Kinsley Terrace
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