Due to a faulty meter, the Wisconsin Heights School District in Black Earth, Wis., was overcharged more than $300,000 by Black Earth Utility over several years.
Two years ago, the school district asked the Public Service Commission to conduct an investigation after the district noticed that energy improvements had not led to an expected drop in utility bills, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. After the school replaced boilers and made some other energy-saving investments in 2009, it expected to see energy savings of about 20 percent. Instead, the faulty meter was tripling actual use measurements at the cash-strapped school, found the PSC report.
The PSC investigation found faulty readings as far back as 1999. The kilowatt usage was actually above and beyond the school’s physical capacity.
The Black Earth Village Board has voted to reimburse the school district $309,342 in two payments: July 1 and Jan. 1, 2014, reports the local news agency. According to a report based on the PSC investigation provided to the Wisconsin State Journal, the refund includes overbilling of $213,699 based on wrong usage figures from 1999 to 2005, billing at the wrong rate for 14 months during 2005 and 2006 for a refund of $12,696, and estimated miscalculated usage in 2009 for a refund of $82,947.
The school district did not ask for interest on the overcharge, and one school official pointed out that in a small community the same taxpayers who support the school are also the ratepayers at the utility company.
Although the utility company says the refund will come from the general utilities fund and will not result in a rate increase, the utility is preparing to apply for a rate increase – its first since 1998.