Danedri Thompson
Gardner Energy under billed nine commercial customers by $40,000 last year. Electric utility board members learned during a Jan. 2 meeting that non-residential customers were billed incorrectly in February 2013.
“We were looking at some billing by class for 2013, and we discovered a billing discrepancy that occured during February 2013. If you recall, we had a pretty significant snow storm then that actually shut down city hall,” Bill Krawczyk, Gardner Energy director, told the board.
Gardner Energy contracts city employees to do its billing, and during the shut down some electric usage was estimated for commercial customers.
Laura Gourley, city finance director, told members of the city council other bills created during the snow storm were billed correctly. For some reason, however, for nine customers, the demand portion of their electric bill was left off.
For now, officials aren’t certain what caused the problem, but they believe it is a software issue.
“The important thing at this point in time is that we get it fixed, so it doesn’t happen again,” Krawczyk said.
He said he would like to see procedures put in place that would note utility bills that are unusually high or low.
“A red flag goes up and somebody says, something isn’t right with this bill,” Krawczyk said.
Gourley said that a procedure has been put in place that requires manual entries for demand portions of bills, in the event usage must be estimated in the future.
In other business, members of the electric utility board:
• tabled a decision to appoint someone to the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency Board of Directors during a meeting Jan. 2. The board needs to find a replacement for former Gardner Energy employee Darrin McNew, who served as an EUB on the KMEA board.
McNew resigned from the city’s electric utility, and now the EUB must find a replacement who lives in Gardner and is a customer of Gardner Energy. The dual requirements eliminated many potential Gardner Energy employees from the role.
Board members consider appointing a member of the EUB to represent Gardner on the KMEA board of directors, but tabled the decision to a later meeting.
• heard an update on Gardner Energy’s power line clearing program. As part of the program, brush is cleared around power lines in different parts of the city each year. The entire city is covered every four years. This year marks the program’s fifth year, so the line clearing process starts over.