Summit Utilities Overcharges Arkansas Residents for Monthly Gas Bills, Class Action Alleges
Weyrens et al. v. Summit Utilities Inc. et al.
Filed: March 13, 2023 ◆§ 4:23-cv-00193
A class action alleges Summit Utilities Inc. and Summit Utilities Arkansas, Inc. have charged Arkansas consumers excessive prices for their monthly gas bills.
A proposed class action alleges Summit Utilities Inc. and Summit Utilities Arkansas, Inc. have charged Arkansas consumers excessive prices for their monthly gas bills.
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The 10-page lawsuit says that after Summit purchased certain assets of CenterPoint Energy Resources Corp. (CERC) for its natural gas utility business in April 2021, it promised consumers that there would be a “seamless transition” from CERC to Summit “with no disruption of customer and supplier plans and expectations.” However, since January 2023, hundreds of consumers have complained that their monthly payments for natural gas and services from Summit have doubled, tripled and even quadrupled in price, the case claims.
According to the complaint, CERC assisted Summit during a one-year transition period, providing support in areas such as gas supply, safety, training, engineering, customer operations, supply chain, finance and accounting until December 2022. The filing argues that since being left to its own devices, Summit has failed to appropriately bill Arkansas customers for its utility gas services.
“Summit claims the significant up-charged bills are the result of its transition from CERC’s computer system to Summit’s systems, which resulted in Summit sending ‘estimated bills’ because there was a possibility of ‘different level of billing’ of its customers,” the suit states, adding that Summit has also blamed “enormous” price increases on the rising cost of gas, the pandemic, winter storms and the war in Ukraine.
The lawsuit further claims that Summit fails to credit customers for monthly payments made directly to the company or through autopay, and it has allegedly failed to notify or obtain consent from consumers before enrolling them in its autopay program and extracting money from their accounts.
The plaintiff, an Arkansas consumer, says his monthly gas bills have doubled in price since January of this year, even though his household’s natural gas consumption has been reduced considerably.
The lawsuit looks to cover anyone in Arkansas who, since January 1, 2022, has had an account with Summit for the provision of natural gas and received monthly bills from the company or its predecessor.
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