Utility tacks on $3,086 in ‘damages’ to couple’s electric bill

Better Call Behnken

SPRING HILL, Fla. (WFLA) – In a bold move, the Withlachoochee River Electric Cooperative attached $3,086 in “damages” to this month’s electric bill for a Spring Hill couple.

The utility company claims Zane Golas left a customer service building in May and was so angry that he shoved open the door with such force that he broke the door, damaging the automatic assist system.

Golas denies he broke the door and is furious the charge is on his electric bill. Fearing his electricity would be cut off because he could not pay the damage bill, Golas turned to Better Call Behnken for help.

“If I have to pay this before the due date, my kids will have no power, I’ll have no power, I can’t afford that,” Golas said.

David Lambert, a spokesman for WREC, said the utility sent Golas two statements and that one warned that if he didn’t pay the damages, the amount would be tacked on to his electric bill.

Lambert says when the statements were ignored, the utility followed through, “to get his attention.”

WREC is a cooperative, owned by its members, and Lambert said:

“We don’t feel the other members should have to pay for damages he caused.”

This issue is about two things. One, whether Golas really broke the door. Secondly, whether tacking the amount on to his electric bill is appropriate.

Representatives at public utilities in the Tampa Bay area tell Better Call Behnken they would not be allowed by state regulations to send a bill for anything other than power.

After questions from Better Call Behnken, Lambert said the damage charge will be on hold, and the utility will file a lawsuit against Golas this week.

That is what Golas wants because, even if a judge sides with the utility, he’ll have time to pay the bill.

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