HEA has enough issues with regulation

Posted: Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I am writing as a 38-year member of HEA, residential and commercial property landlord, and 28-year owner of Kelly Electric, Inc. on the Kenai. I would not be in favor of "self-regulation" for our "consumer owned utility" because HEA consistently considers its own balance sheet before its customers. I am speaking of policy issues, not to be confused with either the work in the office or the field of the HEA workers. It is not the policy of HEA to pay the customers' bills from my company or another contractor to make multiple trips (or a single trip) to identify a problem on HEA's side of the meter -- HEA doesn't charge to fix their problem, but the customer may incur costs from a private contractor to figure out that their problem is with HEA's equipment or faulty installation. It seems as the years go by, more and more conditions of faulty equipment or installation and the damages they cause are discounted by HEA as an "Act of God" -- which makes HEA not liable.

The situation I find myself in recently, and many of you (landlords and anyone with older style multiple meterbases common on duplexes, triplexes four-plexes etc., or commercial multi-tenant malls) is that when HEA changed to the new style remote reading meters, they or their subcontractor installed a new style seal on the meter that prevents access to the your mainbreaker, neutral and ground connections. What this means is that if your lights are dimming or your heat is out or your well won't pump or your entertainment system and computer burst into flames (this can happen if you lose the neutral connection) and you call me, I cannot tighten a loose lug on your equipment, or replace a breaker in your meter without calling HEA and waiting for a service person from the utility to come and remove the seal (the meter doesn't have to be pulled, just the seal replaced with the type of seal designed for this configuration of meter base). If you are in Sterling, North Road, Clam Gulch -- anywhere HEA is, anytime of the year, middle of the night, rain, sleet, snow, etc. and you have this type of meter and seal, you will pay to have the electrical contractor wait for HEA to send someone to change the seal -- even if the primary problem is HEA's resposibility because the problem cannot even be diagnosed until HEA arrives with a new seal (like the one they took off when they changed the meter).

It seems to me that you and I should not have to pay for HEA's mistake of putting the wrong seal on by having us (the consumer) pay an electrical contractor to find these meters during a failure and sitting around until someone from HEA (possibly on overtime) arrives.I usually try to go to another job if I have something close enough, but that's not going to happen far from town or during the night. At this time a contractor would be fined $100 and and possibly have the bill added to his electric bill for his own residence and eventually have his electrical service threatened if he removed the seal (not the meter) to do the diagnosis and or repair.

What I would like to see is that HEA would identify likely multi-meter locations and change the seals -- or pay the electrical contractors for the waiting time so the consumer doesn't have to pay for it.

Another thought would be to let the contractor break the seal (without removing the meter) with permission via telephone, giving HEA the meter number and address -- they could seal as soon as possible, but then no one is waiting and that cost doesn't happen.

And this is with regulation.

Kelly Sederholm


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