Mosqueda raised issue and ordered audit of Seattle City Light after hearing from customers
Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide) applauded Seattle City Light customers who first raised the issue of the department’s practice of “catch up” billing, customer complaints that led Mosqueda to call for an audit, and a settlement of $3.5 million announced by the City Attorney’s Office today.
Mosqueda requested the audit of Seattle City Light in August of 2018 after her office received numerous complaints about Seattle City Light’s billing practices when it implemented its new advanced metering system. As chair of the committee overseeing Seattle City Light, Mosqueda ordered the audit to review errors caused by estimated billing practices, and how Seattle City Light was communicating with customers about “catch up bills” and resolving customer complaints and appeals. Additionally, Mosqueda requested Seattle City Light create new policies, such as payment options available for customers who weren’t anticipating such high bills, and a process for reimbursement when customers were overcharged.
“My committee first explored these issues and called attention to customer complaints after we heard from numerous constituents who had received outrageously high bills, some hundreds or thousands of dollars they couldn’t afford and weren’t anticipating due to Seattle City Light’s practice of ‘catch up’ billing when it implemented its new metering system. I then ordered an audit of Seattle City Light, and alongside community members and customers demanded corrective action for City Light to amend their billing practices. Today, Seattle City Light took accountability for those practices, and will offer a $3.5 million settlement to some of its customers,” Mosqueda said. “While this settlement admits no liability, I’m hopeful City Light maintains our City’s values of transparency and accountability.”
“I believe Seattle City Light is pleased to have resolved this class action lawsuit and looks forward to reinforcing their mission of delivering affordable energy to hundreds of thousands of area residents and businesses,” said Councilmember Alex Pedersen (District 4, Northeast Seattle), Chair of the Transportation and Utilities Committee. “While the lawsuit was initiated before I was elected to City Council, as the current Chair of the Transportation & Utilities Committee, I understand that settlements can often be the best way to resolve disputes. I look forward to Seattle City Light fulfilling the terms of the settlement. I know our independent City Auditor will continue to monitor several items from the April 2020 Audit Report. To see City Light’s most recent update on compliance with the Auditor’s recommended actions, click here. I am also pleased that any unclaimed funds in the settlement pool will go to programs to help low income households with their bills.”
Mosqueda said she is pleased Seattle City Light’s billing practices and customer support services have been amended, including offering payment arrangements, investments in new technology, specialized customer service teams, and support for households impacted by the financial impacts of COVID.
Mosqueda will continue to follow up with City Light regarding implementation of the settlement agreement and the auditor’s recommendations.
“Our goal from day one was always to ensure our customers who were negatively impacted by higher than expected bills were made whole, and I’m hopeful this settlement is a step in providing some resolution and reduced stress for Seattle families,” Mosqueda said.
Seattle City Light estimates the potential settlement could be eligible to 300,000 residential accounts. The amount each customer receives depends on a number of factors, and customers must submit a claim to receive the funds.