Hundreds of Claremore Electric customers received a higher than normal electric bill for the month of September after a glitch occurred in the department’s billing software system.
Larry Hughes, director of electric utility for the City of Claremore, said the glitch occurred on Aug. 1 around the time the electric department began updating its billing software system.
Hughes said the problem initially caused some customers’ electric bills to be less than what they should have been.
“We realized, based off customers’ usage, that they were being under billed for the month of August.” The difference from what residents paid and what they should have paid, was added to their September bill creating a higher than usual amount for households, which caught some customers by surprise.
“We understand that this may be a struggle for some, and they can set up payment plans that work best for them to pay off the amount that wasn’t recorded by the meter because of the glitch,” he said.
Hughes said he is unsure of what caused the bug in the system, but confirmed it has been fixed. Now it’s a matter of working with customers to set up payment options.
“We will work with these people, but they need to come talk with us,” said Hughes. We have customers’ electricity usage on record and do not mind double checking meter readings to compare month-to-month usage.”
The City of Claremore’s electric utility department serves roughly 12,000 customers. Hughes said the current meters are at least 99.5 percent accurate, and out of the 12,000 total customers, about 600-800 saw problems with their billing.
Anyone who has questions regarding their utility usage and/or billing, can visit city hall to discuss information on their account.
“When updating any software, there’s going to be a learning curve. We apologize for the glitch and are working with customers to address their issues and concerns.”
Hughes said the billing software update was part of a precursor for the implementation of the city’s new advanced metering infrastructure, “smart meter” network. He said he is anticipating the installation to launch in mid-October, after the network is set up.
Dashboard data will follow installation and the information will help Claremore Electric and their customers monitor utility usage.
The plan is to install about 1,000 electric and 400 water meters a week with two different teams working simultaneously.
The new system is expected to improve billing accuracy and decrease utility theft. The city council voted in December 2013 to move to the new system in order to increase efficiency and provide a tool to help line workers better address system outages.