Seattle City Light Settles Lawsuit Over Incorrect Bills

SEATTLE (AP) — The city of Seattle has reached a $3.5 million settlement in a lawsuit against Seattle City Light filed by peole who received incorrect and excessive utility bills.

The Seattle Times reports the settlement addresses issues raised in August 2019 lawsuit that claimed Seattle City Light improperly billed some of its customers based upon an estimated usage of electricity.

The suit claimed that City Light invested in technology that would estimate customer usage, and relied on that technology instead of checking meters, to bill customers.

The utility company said, though, that the bills based on estimated use were too low and in some cases customers had underpaid for years. In an effort to rectify the losses, the utility sent out corrected bills that in some cases were in the thousands of dollars.

The suit, filed in King County Superior Court , alleged that Seattle City Light invested in faulty — and costly — technology and then, when it failed, sought to correct the system’s errors by serially overcharging customers.

The $3.5 million settlement will be divided into two funds for qualifying residential City Light customers who received one or more estimated bills followed by a bill based on actual usage between Aug. 21, 2015 and June 8, 2020.

In a statement, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said, “Considering that attorneys’ fees alone could eclipse the settlement figure if this case were taken to trial and then appealed, this was the right move. I’m glad to have the majority of the settlement total made available to existing City Light customers in the form of a future bill credit, and I’m thankful to the team who helped bring this case to resolution.”