June 21, 2024

Having trouble with your AES bill? Here’s how long it’ll take to fix.

Officials with AES Indiana answer questions about the company's billing system during an Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission meeting June 17 in Indianapolis.  - Tyler Fenwick / Mirror Indy

Officials with AES Indiana answer questions about the company's billing system during an Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission meeting June 17 in Indianapolis.

Tyler Fenwick / Mirror Indy
By Tyler Fenwick
 

AES Indiana customers may continue to see issues with their electric bills into early fall.

That’s when officials with the company told the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission they expect their new billing system to normalize.

IURC commissioners asked officials with the utility company during a meeting June 17 for more details about how the billing system has failed for thousands of its customers.

So far, nearly 62,000 AES customers have experienced problems since the new system went live in November 2023. That’s about 12% of all customers, according to a June 11 filing with the commission.

AES President Brandi Davis-Handy told commissioners that billing issues are affecting about 3% of customers currently.

Still, with a customer base of 520,000, that translates to about 15,500 customers experiencing billing problems.

“We understand the frustration,” AES CEO Ken Zagzebski said.

For some customers, AES has withdrawn a monthly payment multiple times. Others haven’t received an electric bill since the system went live, meaning their account continues to rack up charges that they’ll have to pay eventually.

Davis-Handy said the company will commit to working with those customers on a payment plan so they won’t be responsible for paying all of it at once.

AES also has discontinued late fees and shutoffs while the billing system continues to glitch. Davis-Handy said the company will give at least 60 days notice before reinstating fees and shutoffs.

Some issues expected

AES rolled out its new billing system as part of a suite of system upgrades meant to improve customer experience.

The previous billing system was about 25 years old.

“Replacing our outdated technology is essential to meet our customers’ ever-growing needs,” an AES spokeswoman said in a statement following the meeting. “Making this change allows us to integrate with newer technologies, which is foundational to serving our customers with new services and offerings.”

AES officials emphasized to commissioners that the vast majority of customers haven’t had billing issues. They also said some amount of problems are to be expected when rolling out a big change.

Still, some commissioners questioned why complications have persisted with the $84 million project.

“I’m questioning the fact that you had problems from the get-go, and it’s taken a while to solve those problems,” commissioner Wesley Bennett said. “That’s my main concern.”

Board chair Jim Huston said that the most important job for AES is to deliver electricity to customers but that appropriately billing them also is critical.

“Obviously, we wouldn’t have asked you to this meeting if we didn’t have some concerns,” he said.

Ben Inskeep, program director with the consumer advocacy group Citizens Action Coalition, told Mirror Indy after the meeting that there are still questions about how AES implemented the billing system.

“We heard a lot of corporate speak,” Inskeep said. “We heard a lot of a utility trying to justify and make excuses.”

The commission has asked AES to put together an analysis of why its system malfunctioned.

What to do if you have a billing problem

Vanessa Barbarisi, director of transformation strategy at AES, said the company’s goal is to get back to normal billing during the third quarter this year — which extends from July through September.

Until then, if you notice anything unusual about your AES bill, the company has a line dedicated to problems related to its new system: 317-261-2085.

AES has a page with frequently asked questions about billing.

You also can learn more and file a complaint with the commission’s Consumer Affairs Division.

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