LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A class-action lawsuit was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court against Summit Utilities Thursday alleging price gouging.
The case was brought against Summit Utilities, Inc. and Summit Utilities Arkansas, Inc., and claims Summit has “utterly failed” to provide gas service. It also states the company “has price-gouged” customers with “substantial over-billing.”
It claims issues started during the transition after Summit purchased CenterPoint Energy Resources Corp. gas utility resources in 2021. During the transition, the suit alleges, a promised seamless transition between the two utility providers did not take place.
When Summit fully took over the former CenterPoint gas service for Arkansas and Oklahoma in December 2022, prices for gas service became “extraordinarily high,” the suit alleges. It also alleges that the company has also failed to credit customer accounts for payments.
The suit does not name all the members of the class, although it states it believes more than 70 Summit customers exist to qualify for a class action.
The suit asks for the court to declare Summit has “breached its implied duty of good faith” and an accounting of money paid to the company. It further asks that members of the class be allowed to stop making monthly payments until accounting issues are corrected.
Summit Utilities has been in the news since the December 2022 transition from Center Point. At that time, several customers reported bills much higher than they had been in the past. For example, one customer reported her bill had jumped from between $60 to $100 a month to now $300 a month. Others complained about bills jumping from $35 up to $200.
In late January, Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin responded to complaints after his office reportedly received hundreds of complaints from Summit customers.
At the time, Summit Utilities senior director of external affairs Brian Bowen said data processing, which had used a system to estimate bills, had caused a problem but had been resolved. An increase in gas prices paid by the utility had also caused a rate hike, he said.