OH school district says utility overbilled $500K - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

OH school district says utility overbilled $500K

CINCINNATI (AP) - An Ohio school district has filed a complaint with state regulators, alleging that Duke Energy Ohio Inc. overcharged the district by more than $500,000 over five years.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio received the Cincinnati Public Schools complaint on Friday, commission spokesman Matthew Schilling said. The complaint charges that Duke overcharged the district by $511,765 for electric services at modular units. Schools use the temporary units while permanent buildings are being renovated.

Duke improperly classified the modular units, charging an incorrect and more expensive rate between 2004 and 2008 and violating Duke's electric service regulations, the complaint charges.

An energy consultant found the problem in a routine audit of the district's energy bills, the complaint says.

Duke has discussed the issue with the district, Duke spokeswoman Patricia Hoffmann said Friday.

"We are aware of their position, but we obviously disagree," Hoffmann said "We have reviewed our billing, and we are confident we billed correctly."

The district is asking the commission to require the utility to refund the money. The district also wants the commission to require Duke to develop a procedure to make sure customers are informed about the kind of rates available to them. The district claims Duke is required to let customers know of the cheapest options that fit their need, but did not do that in this case, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

"It's unfortunate that Duke refuses to give us the refund," district treasurer Jonathan Boyd said.

The district expects to have a deficit reaching nearly $20 million by June 2012, the newspaper reported. The refund wouldn't save the district, but would mean it could keep five or six employees who would have to be laid off otherwise, Boyd said.

Duke has 20 days to respond to the complaint, Schilling said.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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