Lewis County PUD Commissioners Vote to Limit Back Billing for Customers


One day a few months ago, a customer with the Lewis County Public Utility District (PUD) checked her mail and found a bill for $4,500.

Apparently, the meter monitoring her electricity, which is managed by the utility, had been inaccurate for close to a decade. The policy in place allowed the PUD to back bill her for up to six years, thus the steep bill.

“I don't know how you get the responsibility on the customer to catch something like this. As I pressed on it with the other commissioners, they realized that that was not realistic for our customers in Lewis County,” said PUD Commissioner Michael Kelly, but added, “We can’t just give away power. We have to represent all the customers.”

Upon hearing about this case, Kelly proposed a policy change that would limit the amount of backpay for customers, also known as “underbilling” to just six months, rather than six years, for residential customers.

For commercial users of PUD’s electricity, the amount of potential back charges would be limited to three years. Kelly’s proposal passed unanimously during a board meeting on Tuesday morning. One of the three commissioners, Tim Cournyer, was not in attendance.  

“The customer has a reasonable assumption that power is metered correctly,” Kelly said, adding later that ultimately the failure to meter should not result in punishment of the customer.