Ergon Energy suspended its meter reading services in areas impacted by the cyclone and has been issuing estimated bills instead.
Ergon Energy suspended its meter reading services in areas impacted by the cyclone and has been issuing estimated bills instead. Kevin Farmer

'Sorry': Families hit with large estimate energy bills

ERGON Energy has been praised for its mammoth efforts to restore power across the state after the destruction of Cyclone Debbie.

But that appreciation is wearing thin in some communities, as families have returned home to find massive electricity bills.

From Bowen to Sarina, the company has issued statements with charges hundreds of dollars more than usual, at a time that many had either lost power, or been evacuated before the storm hit.

Confused at what could've caused such large usage while away, a few contacted Ergon Energy only to discover they had been dealt an 'estimate' after meter reading services had been stopped because of floodwater.

There was no meter reading in impacted areas, including from Mackay to Ayr, and Emerald.

>> READ MORE: Ergon issues explainer on shock bill increase after cyclone

"In simple terms it was a major event impacting power to 65,000 customers which required significant resources to respond. In these areas, customers who were due to be billed will receive estimated bills and these will be based on the actual premise readings from the same time last year or previous reads."

However, 24-year-old Kaycee Powter wasn't satisfied after she discovered she owed the energy provider $200 more than her last bill.

The mother of a small family says her usage is normally low, but in the past few months had been even less as she'd been at her mother's house most nights.

"I rang up Ergon because I had a payment plan previously and was calling to see how it was going," Ms Powter explained.

"The person on the phone said they had a new bill for me which was $898 and I nearly fell off my chair, it was ridiculous.

"I have gall stones and need support, so I'm at my mum's 4-5 nights a week, so I'm really only home on weekends.

"I have a 6-month-old baby, I can't afford $900!"

 

Kaycee Powter, 24, nearly fell off her chair when found out her energy bill was about $200 more than usual.
Kaycee Powter, 24, nearly fell off her chair when found out her energy bill was about $200 more than usual. Contributed

Ms Powter was told she had three weeks to pay up. It wasn't until she saw others complaining that she thought her bill might have been estimated.

Desmond Curry started a discussion online, posting to warn others about the increased charges.

"Just got (an) Ergon bill...huge," Ms Curry said.

"Our meter was nearly a 1000 units ahead of what I read it at today, which is almost the first month of this current quarter."

"Yeah $1700 bill doesn't seem right," Crofton Kelly wrote.

Others were quick to suggest people who thought their bills were too high to contact Ergon.

"I just read my meter and phoned them with the numbers and they will send a new bill," Mandy Baker said.

"It should be around $780 so we shall see."

Similar examples were provided from residents in Proserpine, Bowen and as far south as Sarina.

Others also questioned the $11.50 meter service charge - considering the bills were estimated.

In special circumstances, Ergon Energy does allow households to "self meter read", but their website states it would "always contact customers in these situations".

When contacted, the spokesperson said the company apologised for the inconvenience and "bills will be adjusted after the next actual meter read is recorded".

On Friday Ms Powter spoke with the energy company to have her bill amended. She was told someone would read her meter within five business days.

However, if her meter isn't read, she'll have to pay the $898 and wait until her next bill to receive a credit.

"I would have liked to know when I called them if it had just been estimated," she explained. "I wasn't home so I don't know if they actually came to my place or not."

Ergon Energy asked anyone concerned to call 13 10 46.

Send story tips to news@dailymercury.com.au or click here

What you said

Tina Tina Yeah got a huge bill today also didn't use no aircon and was without power for 6 days this is just bulls***!

Crystal Roberts-Neilsen Our bill has increased by $600 for the estimate

Steven Bennett My last bill was $680. Seems I'm using more power then a family of 5.

Ryan Brooks Mine was $750 and I have solar.

Anne-marie Rankmore I live in Calen and mine was read and its $1400 much higher than usual

E M Zulu Zulu Mine has gone up and we have turned off hot water as they said that was the cause of the bill so high. Only have it on 1 hour to heat up at most

Robyn Gorlick My bill was $1750, I have gas hot water, only have 2 air cons on at night during the hot weeks. I think that was excessive.

Cassandra Turner Wow thats excessive. Ours was 750 and i was shocked, i would keel over if i got a bill for that amount. We have 2 ppl, gas stove and ran an a/c all night.

Tracy Camm Thumbs down to Ergon for their ridiculous pricing

How is anyone meant to get ahead with ridiculous bills!

Ashlyn Rose Mc Cann Yep over $300 because they estimated my last years bill to this year. So I need to pay about $1200 for the 3 months


Creating support links

Creating support links

Emerald woman starts depression/anxiety support group.

Bush adventures kids will love

Bush adventures kids will love

Local author inspires big rural dreams.

What can you do?

What can you do?

Chance to learn life-saving skills.

Local Partners