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13 Help Team gets relief for viewer who received near $700 Consumers Energy bill

Theresa Robinson says she got an account credit of $500 and an apology.

NORTON SHORES, Mich. — New details tied to a 13 Help Team story published earlier this week involving still more Consumers Energy customers who received big bills they couldn't afford.

A Norton Shores woman profiled by 13 ON YOUR SIDE Tuesday had her issues resolved within hours of contacting us.

“I'm very pleased,” Theresa Robinson related. “I'm very, very grateful to you and your station. You know, I don't have to worry about that kind of money hanging… over my head.”

Robinson recently received an invoice from the utility for nearly $700, a charge that equated to more than ten times what she’d paid in past months.

“It's very unfair,” she suggested at the time.  

An investigation by the 13 Help Team, ongoing for several months, prompted dozens of customers to come forward, relaying a host of concerns with regard to the utility’s billing practices.

The issues stemmed from its transition to modern electricity meters, which utilize 4G and 5G networks in place of the older 3G system.

As of last month, the utility revealed some 90-thousand of the affected units had yet to be replaced.

“Did you ever receive any kind of communication from them,” we asked. Consumers Energy, on several occasions, indicated it had notified customers affected by the transition.

“Not at all… Nothing whatsoever until I received this bill,” she replied. “Yeah, I think it's horrible to do that to people.”

Amid the transition, Robinson, like the others, had been receiving regular estimates instead of actual reads.

The spike in energy usage coincided with what appeared to have been the first actual reading since February.

“I don't understand why, if your equipment was faulty, why should be responsible,” she said. “Because this is a tremendous amount of money. And I can't afford it.”

In response to 13 ON YOUR SIDE’s outreach, Consumers Energy issued Robinson an account credit in the amount of $500 in addition to an apology.

“I was stunned,” Robinson related Thursday. “How quickly I got that phone call-- I was like ‘yeah!’”

Consumers Energy, in response to an inquiry submitted by 13OYS prior to the original publication date, referenced an active investigation into several of the practices in question by the Michigan Public Service Commission when it relayed the following via an emailed statement Tuesday:

“Due to privacy rules, Consumers Energy is prevented from discussing publicly details about customer’s accounts and is working directly with the customer to resolve their questions and concerns.

We understand how frustrating it can be to receive a bill that is much higher than expected. Consumers Energy is committed to doing right by its customers and improving our performance and communications.

We are cooperating with the Michigan Public Service Commission on the meter investigation and are focused on delivering the service our customers and the MPSC expect.”

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