Westar customers worried new meters causing increase in monthly bills


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Some Westar customers across the state, getting quite the sticker shock when they are getting their monthly bill.

KSN has received Facebook comments from several viewers, some who’ve seen their bill double.

Many customers, like Tawnisha Shugart, are saying the problem with their bills started when a new meter was installed.

“After the new meters mine went from 76.00 to 300.00,” said Shugart.

Others, like Nicci Jones, expressing their frustrations.

“Most my bill has ever been in the summer was 175, I haven’t seen a bill less than 320 since May,” said Jones.

In some cases, customers, like Patrick Kennedy say their bill had risen dramatically.

“1st bill after new meter was over $700. Each month is almost double last year,” said Kennedy.

Westar has spent the past few years upgrading their meters, transferring from analog meters to new digital meters.

About 55-percent of their customers, statewide, now have digital meters.

Out of their 690 thousand customers, about 380 thousand here in Wichita have the new meters.

Gina Penzig, the Media Relations Manager with Westar Energy says they have been contacted by several customers about the digital meters.

Penzig says the meters are supposed to give a more accurate reading.

“The new meters are required to meet international standards for accuracy, our manufacturer is subject to independent testing for accuracy, with our testing, they’ve been proving to measuring usage accurately,” said Penzig.

Penzig points to one driving factor when it comes to a dollar amount increase on customers bills.

“While it’s natural to compare the dollar amount, when really trying to understand what’s driving that dollar amount, it is important to look at the usage instead and compare that,” said Penzig.

KSN asked Penzig if they inspect the newer meters if a customer has a worry or complaint.

Penzig says in most cases, they don’t go out and field test a meter.

However, when they do, Penzig says the results are usually the same.

“When we go out to test the meters and we put on a check meter to make sure that usage is being recorded correctly is that the meters are accurate,” said Penzig.

Penzig says they are continuing to move forward with upgrading all their customers to the digital meters.

She says the plan is to have them all installed by the end of 2018.



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