Significant increases in some Pepco customers' heating bills may have been due to flawed meters, according to the D.C. utility consumer advocate.
The Office of the People's Counsel received about 400 complaints from customers earlier this year as their bills increased.
She also said random faulty meters may account for the high bill readings for more than 43 percent of consumers, according to the Examiner.
Pepco denies those claims. The company said "that of the 234 consumer account records that Pepco contributed for the OPC analysis, only two accounts may have had actual 'meter issues' and that 17 other customers may have had meter-related concerns, such as access and/or estimated billing, but those cannot be fairly categorized as 'faulty meter' issues."
Pepco also said that the D.C. Public Service Commission makes them conduct sample testing every year to verify the accuracy of its meters. Pepco said in its latest results (October 2008), 5,300 meters tested as 95 percent accurate and that in the majority of the cases where meters have a problem, the mechanical device is running slow -- favoring the customer.
Pepco said the steep increases were caused by a colder-than-average winter, longer billing cycles as a result of numerous holidays, an increase in customer usage, and higher electricity generation rates.