Blumenthal: CNG should forgo collecting on 'make-up' bills

Chris Rizo May 12, 2008, 12:13pm

GREENWICH, Conn. (Legal Newsline)-Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal on Monday urged state regulators to block Connecticut Natural Gas from collecting $1.4 million from 3,400 customers he said it illegally billed in January.

The utility in November and December 2007 mistakenly under-billed about 3,400 customers, and CNG sought to make up for the mistake in January, sending those same consumers bills that included that month's usage plus the under-billed amounts from the previous two months.

Because of the combined bills, consumers faced January bill that were much higher than usual, the attorney general's office said.

Blumenthal said he has formally notified the Department of Public Utility Control that state law prohibits the issuing "make-up bills" to require immediate payment of amounts under-billed in prior months.

State law also prohibits CNG from imposing make-up amounts exceeding 50 percent of the customer's average bills over the previous 12 months.

Blumenthal said CNG must forgo any amounts that it cannot recover within the law's limits.

"Consumers should not have to suffer from CNG's faulty, fabricated bills and illegal collections," Blumenthal said in a statement.

"CNG failed to respond in a reasonable manner to billing problems, failed to consider the profound impact that its billing problems would have on customers and failed to comply with Connecticut law," he added.

CNG said it first became aware of its inaccurate billing on Jan. 15, after an internal investigation.

"CNG had ample notice of a major billing problem prior to Jan. 15, and its response was slow, inadequate and failed to consider the impact its billing errors would have on its customers," Blumenthal said.

Approximately 3,195 of the impacted customers were residential and about 204 were commercial and industrial.

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