ST. JOHNS COUNTY, FLA. - Water bill data from JEA shows the utility company has credited over $832,000 back to customers since September 19. That number is expected increase once abnormal water bills for JEA customers in parts of St. Johns County are resolved. Residents have been voicing frustrations over unexplained spikes since Hurricane Irma.
JEA representatives say meter readers were reassigned to assist with power restoration in the days before and after the storms. Customers received bill estimates rather than exact bills for the water they actually used.
Gerri Boyce with JEA said approximately 10,000 of JEA's 337,000 water customers were affected. Bills were calculated using the amount of water the customer used last year in the same month, Boyce said.
For customers like Kim Penado in St. Augustine, her bill last year was three times higher than the current usage.
"Our bill was $270 this time and the month before it was $165," said Penado. "I spent several hours making phone calls, watching online, and asking neighbors about their bills."
Yesterday, Penado said she received a letter from JEA explaining her $270 bill should have been $79 and her account would be credited.
In 2017, JEA has credited customers 15,500 times according to data obtained by First Coast News.
Zip code 32225 including Arlington and Fort Caroline received the most bill adjustments. JEA credited customers in the area 1,262 times for a total of $67,505.
The average credit was $53. A Westside apartment complex received a $35,000 credit from JEA on July 12, 2017.
First Coast News has asked JEA for the top reasons for these credits and is waiting for a response on whether these were due to overpayment, overcharges, incorrect billing, or billing estimates.
Penado said JEA could have better informed customers that they would be getting a bill estimate in advance of Irma.
"In the future they could just let us know," Penado said. "The time they spent on all of us correcting the bill or getting an explanation could have been spent better on those who were without power."
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