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Tampering Charge Dims Record with JEA

2:16 PM, Feb 29, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- While not paying the electric bill is a quick way to get the power shut off, it's not just the monthly cost that can leave customers in the dark.

Daniel Brannen relies on electricity to power his medical equipment. So when JEA turned his power off Tuesday for a delinquent charge, it was a big problem. 

"It's very frustrating and the thing is, it's a matter of policy. It's not a matter of law," Brannen said.

And it's not about paying the bill on time.

Back in Dec. 2010 Brannen was slapped with a $100 fine after his meter was tampered with at the apartment complex where he lives.

The meters are out in the open in the complex, and Brannen insisted he never tampered with any of them, so he refused to pay.

"I just never paid the $100 fee. I kept paying my electric all along, but I never paid the fee," he said.

Every month the charge would show up on his bill, and he said every month he would call to complain.

"If the account was in my name, I was ultimately responsible. They weren't worried about who tampered with it, they just knew it was in my account name," he said.

JEA spokesperson Gerri Boyce said it's company policy to levy a fine when the meters are tampered with, and that company records show the seal on Brannen's meter had been cut.

Boyce said JEA has an entire department to investigate meter fraud, which is a serious problem, but Brannen said it's not his.

"They ignored any of my arguments about it. They ignored any attempt to investigate or do anything else with it," he said.  

Brannen's brother finally paid the fine to get his power switched back on, and Brannen said he'll be keeping a close eye on those meters from now on.

First Coast News

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