City Council to address Austin Energy billing issue - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

City Council to address Austin Energy billing issue

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We all want our utility bills to be timely and accurate. But, that's not always the case.

"Austin Energy has us cornered and we have to pay it," said Dr. Daniel Shaddock, the chiropractor at Absolute Life Wellness Center.

He's also one of 400 Austin Energy commercial customers being back billed.

Since our first FOX 7 on your side report, we've heard about additional billing issues from viewers on our FOX 7 Facebook page.

"It's a monopoly," added Shaddock.

One woman claims her corrected bill amount is $4,000. Commercial customers pay for a fee called a "demand charge" based on their usage. The 400 businesses moved up to a higher rate class, but Austin Energy isn't telling them until now.

Shaddock said, "I understand people make mistakes, businesses make mistakes, but at least come back and say we'll charge you 50% of it, but nobody was really trying to hear it."

"There are state laws governing utility usage and so the utility and council has no ability to waive their electricity bill," said City Council member Kathie Tovo.

She and the other city council members are the authority over Austin Energy.

Tovo said, "What the council can do is and has done in the past, is to work on policies that impact payment arrangements."

"I have the whole network of different doctors that we talk to on a daily basis and I did hear of one that got out of it because he knew somebody at the city," said Shaddock.

"It's a concern to me," Tovo said. "It's a substantial amount for a small business struggling to pay its overhead on a monthly basis."

Shaddock said, "They tried to break the payments up over a course of eight months, but it's the principal of the matter at the end of the day."

Shaddock even reached out to an attorney for advice.

"He really couldn't go after them for anything until the electricity is cut off and we incur damages," said Shaddock.

As a small business owner, he can't afford to shut down for two weeks.

"We're opening a second clinic in Austin and it almost makes us not want to open the second clinic," said Shaddock.

Some customers were also overbilled. According to Austin Energy those amounts average to about $826.

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