LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – State Regulators are going to be taking a closer look at Summit Utilities. After studying thousands of complaints from customers, Attorney General Tim Griffin filed a motion requesting the Public Service Commission investigate the company’s purchasing and billing practices.
The Attorney General broke down multiple mistakes which surprised or frustrated Arkansans when they saw their bills. Customers like Gary Washam in Maumelle said multiple bills perplexed him over winter.
“It’s very stressful,” Washam said. “The bills as I paid them were not going down. They kept going up.”
Washam called Summit Utilities customer service and got the help he needed. 2,800 other Arkansans filed complaints to the office of Attorney General Tim Griffin.
“The frustration and the fatigue that Arkansans are feeling, we all feel. We would love for it to disappear but make no mistake about it, we’re going to be here until it’s over, and if we need to make another motion we’ll make another motion” Griffin told reporters in a press conference Tuesday.
Combing through bills, Griffin’s team found three troubling trends. First, over 500 people experienced an error where the bill they paid during the transition from CenterPoint Energy to Summit was not credited to their next bill.
Second, 167,000 thousand customers were sent a bill for estimated gas use instead of the actual amount they used.
Third, February’s bills were sent out before autopay was factored in, so many customers’ bills appeared to be doubled.
“There’s all kind of billing issues here, but ultimately no one should pay for gas that they are not using,” Griffin asserted.
Following the announcement, we asked Summit Utilities if they have done anything to make sure those errors won’t happen again.
“Absolutely.” Senior Director of External Affairs Brian Bowers answered. “I believe all of those issues have been resolved by Summit,” he continued.
Bowers said Summit Utilities welcomes working with the Public Service Commission as well as the Attorney General’s Office to clear up any of the possible issues customers are experiencing.
He encourages people to contact their customer service team which has hired an additional 50 customer service representatives in Arkansas and Oklahoma since Nov. 1 according to Bowers.
Since taking over for CenterPoint customers, Summit state all late fees and disconnections have been suspended. Customers concerned about the price of gas can request assistance programs.
The second investigation the Attorney General requested is into how Summit purchases its gas and if they have been doing so responsibly, because those costs are passed directly to consumers. Bowers assured consumers that he feels felt certain they have.
The Public Service Commission will investigate the purchasing practices of both CenterPoint and Summit by looking at the gas they bought and for what price from February 2021 through March 31, 2023.
“It’s not done yet. We’ve made some progress on some fronts. We’ve identified some issues, but it’s not done yet, and I certainly hope March will be better than February, and so far it looks like it will be,” Griffin concluded.
Washam insisted something needed to be put in place. “We have to have those services. They are the only service providers to us,” he said.
To read Attorney General Tim Griffin’s 24-page motion click here.