"It's the largest electric bill I have ever received in the 15 years I've lived here, and it was for a period during which there not only was an extended outage but I made sure to kill the breaker," he said.
Parker said he felt like he had been victimized twice - first by Mother Nature and then by Inter-County.
"It's like someone shoots you and then, after you fall down, he comes up to you and pours salt in your wound," he said.
Mark Walker of Pope Road off Lancaster Road in Boyle County said he got his envelope full of salt on Wednesday as well.
In an e-mail he sent to Inter-County and in an interview, Walker mixed some humor with his anger in describing his reaction when he saw his bill.
"I was sure it was going to be good news since we were without power for five days," he said. "Fifteen minutes later as I woke up to the dog licking my face and I realized I really wasn't seeing things, (I saw that) my bill truly was $636."
Walker said the amount is about double what his normal winter electric bill is, and the billing period covered by the bill was half again longer than the normal period, or 42 days instead of 30.
Inter-County spokeswoman Sheree Gilliam said Thursday that the billing period for most customers actually was longer than it was for Walker - 45 to 50 days.
Walker said he understands that the ice storm made conditions virtually impossible for employees to read meters for several days and, therefore, had to rely on an estimate. But he said he doesn't understand why Inter-County didn't base its bill on a combination of an estimate for those days when the meters couldn't be read and the actual meter killowattage used for those days the meters could be read.
"Why use a 42-day billing cycle and also not read a meter," he said. "You do one or the other but not both."
Walker said he expects the billing will "all balance out next month" - or at least he hopes that it will - but he said he can't figure why Inter-County used an extended billing cycle and came up with such large bill.
A 'stunt' for quick cash?
He wonders if it wasn't a "stunt" by the utility to get some quick cash by way of something that amounts to a loan to cover the heavy costs from storm damage to lines, poles and transformers.
"This tells me you guys are basically taking out a loan, from me, without my approval," he said.
"It's sad and disappointing that Inter-County has decided to hit people with every trick in the book to generate as much cash flow as possible at the exact time people are struggling with bills due to the weather disaster and the economy," he said.
Gilliam acknowledged Thursday that the company had received numerous complaints from customers angry over their bills. She issued a statement explaining how the bills were calculated.
"The ice storm may be over, but there is still some aftermath to be dealt with. Inter-County Energy was not able to read meters during a nine-day period after the ice storm on Jan. 27," she said. "Meter reading resumed on Monday, Feb. 9.
"If a valid meter reading and date do not appear in the customer's history when the billing becomes due for that cycle, the computer performs an estimated calculation," she said. "That calculation looks at last year's usage during the same billing period and applies last year's average kilowatt hour usage to the current billing. Normally, that procedure works pretty well."
Because this is a computer calculation, there is no way to "tell" the computer that most people had no power during a portion of the current billing cycle, Gilliam said.
Another "limitation to the process" is that the program looks at the last date that a good reading was taken and subtracts that date from the billing date, she said.
"In the case of the billing cycle in question, the bills were for 45 to 50 days instead of the normal 30 days," Gilliam said.
Inter-County Energy has more than 19,000 customers in Boyle, Casey, Garrard, Lincoln and Mercer counties. At the peak of outages right after the ice storm, all but eight of those customers were without electricity.
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SO YOU KNOW
Inter-County Energy customers who received bills on Feb. 18 can tell if their bill is estimated by checking the "billing code" box in the lower left corner. If the letter "E" appears in the box, customers can seek an adjustment by calling 1-888-266-7322 or (859) 236-4561 or by e-mailing email@example.com.
The customer service representative who speaks with customers will ask for a meter reading, which can be taken by the customer, and have the bill corrected in a matter of minutes. If the customer cannot get the reading, Inter-County will send a meter reader to take a reading and notify the customer of the adjustment amount.