EPB Hires Independent Auditor "To Clear Up Confusion" On Street Lighting Billing

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

EPB officials said Tuesday they have hired an independent auditing firm "to clear up confusion" about billing to the city for street lights.

EPB President Harold DePriest said he expects that any overbilling on certain lights would be "a wash" on underbilling for others.

EPB called a press conference after Mayor Andy Berke sent a letter to EPB board members asking for specific billing information, saying the city wanted to pay "only what we owe."

Mr. DePriest said when mercury vapor lights began to be switched out for more efficient - and more expensive - sodium lights some 35 years ago that the utility had some discrepancies in its records on which lights were where. 

He said EPB recently conducted an inventory of the street lights at 26,000 locations.

Mr. DePriest said whatever the new examination by the firm of Mauldin and Jenkins shows "we will do the right thing."

Both he and board chairman Joe Ferguson stressed that EPB's highest aim is to be open and honest with its customers.

Officials said the new audit will be completed by the first of July as the mayor requested.

They said the findings will be shared with the mayor, the City Council and EPB customers.

John Pless of EPB said in regard to how EPB started its own audit of street lights last year:

"An EPB retiree contacted Suzanne Dorris, manager of EPB’s System Modeling and Records Department, saying there are still some mercury vapor lights (older technology) in use. Under Dorris’s direction, we immediately began the process of inventorying the city’s street lights. We did confirm some mercury vapor lights remain in existence, and we reported the mis-classification of lights to the city last year. The classification of these lights was corrected.

"The assumption that continues to be made by a local news source, that it was Global Green Lighting who discovered this mis-classification, is absolutely false."


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