Alliant spokesman Justin Foss says the summer was warmer this year, but the billing system figured in last year’s usage amounts for bills that were estimated.
“Customers were using more energy, we were estimating bills at much lower than that, and then the system was able to finally to catch up to itself. And now customers are getting bills that are accurate and the reflect this month’s usage plus all of that catch up from the last several months were we estimated low and they used more,” Foss says.
Foss isn’t sure how many customers overall were impacted or how long the billing was an issue. “For some customers that lasted one, two or three months. And so now the bill reflects the usage of this month plus all of that catch up — the difference between what was estimated and what was actually used for months prior,” according to Foss.
He says the company system would normally catch such issues. “Our system automatically takes bills that are very much higher or lower than historical (records) and sends them to a billing representative for manual review,” Foss says. “Unfortunately we didn’t have enough people on staff to do all that manual review. And so, even though the high bill was accurate, the system on the customer’s behalf sent out an estimated bill that was much lower.”
Foss says they issued an apology about the billing system and are working with customers who have concerns. “We are trying to help customers smooth out that bill so it is not one giant burden. We’re here to help them smooth that out over the next several months, or even up to 12 months or more,” Foss says.
The company says it has temporarily stopped the disconnection process for customers who are impacted by this, and are waiving late payment fees for affected customers. They are also trying to hire more people to have enough staff to review bills when needed. Alliant customers are asked to call 1-800-ALLIANT (800-255-4268) from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday with billing questions.