Late 2005, Early 2006, lightening struck a large pine tree, 60+ ft tall, 24" in diameter & approximately 50 ft away from our electric meter. The lightening hit the pine tree hard enough to blow roots 5" in diameter out of the ground outwards from the pine tree 8 ft. to 10 ft. Power supply line to our storage building was affected, breaker box in storage building suffered damage, as did the outside light. There was damage inside our house as well. We had shattered light bulbs, loss of computer, television and satellite service. Spring of 2006 we cancelled balance billing with Reliant Energy, (We have a letter from Reliant dated April 14, 2006 confirming the request to be removed from the Balanced Billing Program).
Then the following month we started receiving Credits instead of invoices for actual energy usage. Several calls were made to customer service at Reliant regarding the credits and each and every time we were told that our account would balance out when the credits were used up. This went on until the end of 2008. (again numerous calls were made during this time period regarding the credits). Fall of 2008 when Hurricane Ike caused havoc to all; again power was affected. We had a Pine tree uproot and fall across our power line to our house pulling the weather head/service riser down and out of our roof. Centerpoint linemen assessing the damages stopped at our house due to the down lines and cut the lines loose at the telephone pole due to electrical hazard. We were told by Centerpoint to have a licensed electrician repair the riser before power could be restored. The electrician had to cut the meter band to remove the meter so he could rewire the house. Power was restored to all houses around us; with the exception of ours. Our power was not restored until a week later.
Again we were still receiving the credits despite the numerous calls made as mentioned above. In February 2009 we received numerous "corrected invoices", these invoices were for the time period of the credits we had been receiving. On our February 4, 2009 Reliant invoice the total estimated amount due was $10,751.63, (some monthly estimated charges exceeds $600.00 on a 1600 sq.ft. home) included in this amount was a charge of $290.05 for tampering and $69.00 for equipment installation. We were outraged that the tables had turned and now we were being accused of Tampering with our power meter despite us trying to bring the matter to Reliants attention. The investigation by Centerpoint claimed that we altered the meter internally. We in no way altered, or would even know how to alter the electric meter. We were irate to be accused of something totally against our nature. We have been a 17-year customer, without fault, with Reliant Energy. (HL&P before Reliant).
We filed a complaint with the PUC of Texas, which asked for no details or explanation on our part. On one of the phone calls made this year to customer service La Tara with Reliant actually told me that all of this is a clerical error. Centerpoint supplied the PUC with their version of the accusation. The PUC supported Centerpoints accusations. On our March 2009 invoice we received a $519.99 late fee (which has been recently removed as per Amie Fabrick with the Regulatory Department with Reliant Energy). Ms. Fabrick has told us we have two weeks, which would be the beginning of April to decide on a payment schedule or a disconnect would be issued. The amount that Reliant says we owe is being disputed on our part due Relaint not having the actual kilowatts used. Ms. Fabrick told my wife that there were no records of our calls to Reliant inquiring about the credits; as if they all had been removed or vanished. Ms. Fabrick mentioned a possible way out of this would be to change providers and walk away from the amount owed to Reliant and let it ruin our credit for 7 years and the matter would go away. We were totally confused. Why would an employee of Reliant even suggest something so unethical? We have excellent credit and would never consider not paying what we owe. We work hard to do what is right which is the reason we tried to bring the credits to Reliants attention.
After analyzing this over and over, I recalled a new tag hanging on our meter, during this time period; which suggests someone with Centerpoint serviced our meter. We feel that Reliant Energy and CenterPoint Energy are trying to cover their tracks due to an internal clerical error as mention by La Tara with Reliant.