COVINGTON, Ky. – Business owner Marty Boyer accidentally paid the electric bill for lights on the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge for five months.
Boyer was charged based on electrical poles across West Third Street from the Theatre House in Covington, a business he acquired in November. The poles supply electricity for lights on the Ohio River bridge, Duke Energy acknowledged Monday after Boyer made a “plea for help” on social media.
Boyer noticed in January the bill seemed too high. Plus, there were more meters than his business, a theatrical supply house, would require. He started calling Duke in January.
Frustrated by Duke’s inaction, Boyer told Duke to turn off the meters across the street on March 19 not knowing what they powered. The lights stayed on at the Theatre House, but a Duke worker showed up the next day asking who turned the lights off.
“(The) lesson here: Want to get attention, turn off the lighting on the bridge,” Boyer said.
The billing error – which was costing Boyer about $200 a month – persisted until it was brought to Duke Energy’s attention Monday by The Enquirer.
Earlier Monday Boyer vented about his dilemma on Facebook, fed up with inaction from Duke customer service.
Duke Energy called the Theatre House owner Monday to apologize, said Sally Thelen, a company spokeswoman.
“We were very apologetic and acknowledged that we can do better,” Thelen said.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, responsible for the bridge lighting, was supposed to be billed.
Duke can and will do better, Thelen said. This will be a “teachable” moment, she said.
“Definitely there were some issues on our end about how we were handling instances of his billing,” she said.
Boyer estimates he spent at least 25 hours trying to talk with employees to stop billing him for the bridge lighting since he first complained in January.
Boyer said he was told Duke couldn’t find someone to bill at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Duke asked him to call the Transportation Cabinet.
Everyone he spoke with made him retell the entire story about how he ended up paying the bridge’s light bill.
“Everyone was like this would be on snopes.com, and I’m like, no this is real,” Boyer said.