Seneca business owners gas bills doubled from previous months

SENECA, Kan. (KSNT) – Some Kansas Gas customers are wondering why their utility bill has more than doubled. We looked into why these people in Seneca say their bills do not add up.

“I went from a 437.37 to a 910 dollar and 80 cent bill, in one month,” said Brenda Sauer, owner of Off Road Service & Repair.

Brenda Sauer owns Off Road Service and Repair in Seneca with her husband. For her March bill from Kansas Gas Service, the amount she owed was double what she usually pays.

“It’s not that we don’t want to pay our bill.and we understand inflation and when it comes to natural gas and what’s going on. But they need to tell us where it’s at,” said Sauer.

She says her bills from December and January were estimated by the utility. But Sauer says it is impossible she could have used that much more gas.

“Where’s the spreadsheet telling me how we used it all?” asked Brenda Sauer.

She is not the only one in Seneca either, Dana Schmelzle also had a much higher bill for both her house and business.

“I did get an e-mail reiterating that it was just estimated in January and February and then in March that’s why it is so high, but we’ve never seen it this high,” said Schmelzle.

According to the Kansas Corporation Commission’s billing guidelines, if a bill is estimated, it must be clearly marked ‘Estimated.’ Which it is on Sauer’s bills. It must have any adjustment to previous bills based on estimated meter readings listed on their next bill, which Sauer says she cannot determine that on her bill.

These customers just want their bills to be correct about their charges.

“We are watching this, and we right the check every month, and we want to know where our money is going,” said Schmelzle.

Sauer says she is not using any gas until next Winter.

Kansas Gas Service responded with this statement:

“Safety is always our top priority. Freezing temperatures, significant snow fall and hazardous road conditions hampered the ability to physically read meters in January and February on a number of accounts in Seneca, Kansas. Subsequently, billing statements were based on estimates that reflected traditional customer usage. We were able to obtain actual meter readings in March and determined the January and February estimates on certain accounts were lower than the actual consumption. This can be attributed to higher than normal usage during one of the coldest winters in 10 years.

Customers who contacted us with concerns were offered payment arrangements.

Estimating consecutive bills is not our normal practice, but it does happen in cases of prolonged severe weather.

We’d like to encourage any customers who have concerns about their bills to contact our customer service department at 1-800-794-4780. Representatives are available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.”

The Kansas Corporation Commission also sent us this statement:

“Customers of regulated utilities may contact the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) if they have a complaint about their utility bill or services. We request that before contacting the KCC, customers first speak with their utility company to resolve the issue.

The Kansas Corporation Commission has established an informal and formal complaint procedure to assist ratepayers seeking to resolve a utility problem.

There is a two-step procedure that only applies to utilities under the KCC’s authority. It is important to note that the KCC does not regulate most electric and water cooperatives, municipalities, wireless, or long distance telephone service providers, cable companies, or the internet.

More information is available at http://kcc.ks.gov/pi/complaints.htm or by calling 1-800-662-0027.”

Last year, the KCC handled 2,101 consumer complaints and returned $121,000 to consumers.

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