Should everyone pay more to heat their homes because Enstar made a multimillion-dollar mistake?
That you already do was the topic of public testimony in downtown Anchorage on Monday evening at the Regulatory Commission of Alaska. And the crowd's answer was a resounding no.
Not a single person out of about 30 who attended stood up to say Southcentral's sole natural gas provider should pass on the costs of the $5.7 million billing error to its customers. They used words like "ridiculous," "irresponsible" and "foolish" to describe the utility's plan to do just that.
"I feel it's despicable," said Denice Callander, a 44-year-old secretary and life-long Alaskan. "We have to pay our bills. So does Enstar. They need to own up to their own mistake and not ask the rest of the consumers -- ratepayers -- to share the burden (of fixing) their mistake."
State Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anch., said state regulations are clear that Enstar Natural Gas Co. cannot recoup its costs for a mistake it made and urged the board to shut down the proposal.
"This is essentially a corporate bailout. This is bailing out Enstar from the mistake that they made," Wielechowski said before the hearing. "They made a mistake. I feel bad for them, but consumers shouldn't have to bear the burden of that mistake."
Enstar overcharged Fort Richardson for 10 times as much as gas as the Army post actually used over a five-year period because of what it characterized as a "manual error" calculating the amount of gas the Fort Rich laundry facility used from 2002 to 2007. The wrong multiplier was used to calculate its gas flow rate, Enstar spokesman John Sims said.
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