ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The New York State Department of Public Service (DPS) announced they are expanding the investigation into NYSEG and RG&E over alleged mismanagement of billing systems.

According to the department, officials began to see a spike in complaints from customers of the two utilities. The department then launched a review and investigation regarding a change to the two companies’ billing systems and customer information back in September.

DPS said that the number of complaints rose to over 4,000 — a 60% increase from the last two years combined. The complaints ranged from incorrect bills to bills being sent late.

“Ensuring customer bills are accurate is the singular responsibility of the utility, and this expanded investigation of RG&E and NYSEG will determine what went wrong and how will it be resolved,” said Rory M. Christian, CEO of DPS. “Our bottom line is simple: we hold utilities accountable for any billing errors and we will require the companies to hold customers harmless.”

News 8 checked back in with Robert Podlaski. A Navy veteran on a fixed income, Podlaski is on budget billing and is supposed to be on a plan of about $200 per month. He received bills over the summer and into the fall for amounts approaching $700. We asked if his issue had been resolved. In short, no. Here’s what he got for November: 

“Five bills in November, all dated for the 16th and 17th. All for different amounts… well, only two were for the same amount,” he said.

The five November bills total $2,015 dollars all said and done. Podlaski’s been here before. He didn’t waste any time. 

“Anyone who is having trouble with RG&E call the Public Service Commission.” He has multiple complaints now filed with the PSC.

“It’s like a cloud over your head, said Podlaski. He said he won’t really know until sometime in January if any of this gets resolved with RG&E. He’s hoping his utilities in the meantime don’t get shut off. Too much of this he said is up in the air. 

“…Am I going to get a bill for $600? Am I going to get a bill for $200? Nobody knows!” he said.

For the investigation, DPS’s Consumer Advocate will host public forums in January to hear concerns from customers.

RG&E has released a statement regarding the investigation:

“NYSEG and RG&E received notice of the Department of Public Service investigation this afternoon. While NYSEG and RG&E have not been immune from the effects of COVID on our utility, such as a severe staffing shortage, we understand the impacts some of our customers have faced with their bills. In fact, we have already made significant progress in reducing customer issues by hiring new billing specialists and streamlining our billing processes. But make no mistake, along with providing safe, reliable service to more than 1,290,000 customers and responding to and restoring service following historic storms, addressing billing issues continues to be a top priority, and we are committed to ensuring customer bills are sent out timely and accurately. We will fully cooperate with the Department’s investigation.”

To file a complaint against RG&E or NYSEG with the Public Service Commission, click here, or you can call 800-342-3377 Monday through Friday. You can also mail a complaint to the following address:

Attention: Office of Consumer Services, New York State Department of Public Service