None of the commercial media outlets in WV thought that the WV PSC’s hearings on the billing mess created by Ohio-based FirstEnergy deserved any kind of in depth coverage. Keryn over at StopPATH WV did the job for them. Here is her eyewitness account of what witnesses at the hearing had to say.
It seems that FirstEnergy has stretched the rules on estimated bills far beyond the point originally intended. According to Keryn’s post, power company witnesses described WV’s meter reading rule as meaning that meters are read “bi-monthly.” This means that FirstEnergy starts with the practice of only reading meters every other month. If anything happens to disrupt this bi-monthly schedule, then estimates start to pile up. That is fine as long as no one is looking, and the WV PSC and the WV CAD treat this violation as an individual problem to be handled through the individual complaint process.
I would argue that the WV rule was originally designed to allow power companies to estimate readings in the times when they have problems, but that all other times, they should read meters monthly, if possible. But, of course, a company in dire financial straits, like FirstEnergy, will try to game the system and slide by with as little customer service as possible. So we end up with FirstEnergy screwing WV customers.
Of course, the WV so-called professional media have played a role. If the regulators aren’t watching, and media companies don’t foster beat reporters that have time to learn the ins and outs of WV’s electrical system, the task of understanding and educating citizens about power company flimflam falls to us “amateurs.”