LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – State officials said Friday that high utility bills seen by Arkansans earlier this year were due to the overall fuel market and not because of any wrongdoing by Summit Utilities.
An investigation into the spike in bills started in March after Attorney General Tim Griffin filed a motion with the Arkansas Public Service Commission over Summit’s natural gas costs and billing practices.
Summit had taken over many customer accounts after acquiring CenterPoint Energy’s assets in Arkansas. After the acquisition wrapped in November of 2022, Griffin reported that the AG’s office started getting a “substantial number of complaints” from Arkansans about increases in their bills.
Customers who spoke with KARK 4 News reported bills jumping as much as six times their previous amounts, leaving them worried about making the payments and frustrated about the hikes.
Some of these customers even filed a class action suit against Summit, claiming the utility company had “utterly failed” to provide gas service while it also “price-gouged” customers with “substantial over-billing.” That suit was ultimately withdrawn.
However, in the findings released Friday, the PSC said it found “no evidence that Summit Utilities of Arkansas has violated any of the commission’s General Service Rules. The commission also said Summit had corrected all the billing issues that had been reported to state officials by customers.
The commission’s investigation showed the prices set by Summit Utilities for customers were based on the company’s own costs and declared to be reasonable in light of a 35% increase in gas costs to the utility between 2021 and 2022.
Friday afternoon the company released a statement saying it will continue to show a “strong commitment to our customers” following the ruling.
“Summit Utilities Arkansas (Summit) has and will continue to demonstrate a strong commitment to our customers and responsible business practices. Summit is pleased the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC) affirmed Summit did not violate any APSC rules and found that Summit’s gas costs were just and reasonable. Since January, Summit has implemented enhancements to its systems and the company will continue to focus on ways we can best serve our customers.”Summitt Utilities statement
Additionally, Summit will provide quarterly reporting for two years on billing practices to the PSC and the attorney general.