Wayne Kotthoff was billed $179.96 to return two unused meters from his property.
Wayne Kotthoff was billed $179.96 to return two unused meters from his property. Rob Barich

Dark side to solar energy argument

RETIRED public servant Wayne Kotthoff thought he was doing the right thing by the environment when he had a solar hot water system installed last year.

But now the hobbyist bird breeder is embroiled in a fight with electricity provider Ergon Energy that could end in the power to his home being turned off.

The issue is a bill from Ergon for $179.96 for removing two meters from Mr Kotthoff’s property.

Mr Kotthoff said he installed the solar hot water system in July and had the old electrical system taken out.

Trouble started when he received a bill for $15 for three months for the rental of the old system’s meters.

“They charge you if you have a meter sitting on the wall even if it’s disconnected,” Mr Kotthoff said.

He engaged an electrician to take the meters off the wall, and made sure all the paperwork was in order.

“The electrician took the meters off the wall, put them on the floor and said Ergon would pick them up,” Mr Kotthoff said.

“I asked why I couldn’t take the meters in to Ergon but he said that wasn’t allowed.”

Soon afterwards two Ergon workers visited the house, put the meters in their vehicle and Mr Kotthoff received a bill for $179.96 for their removal.

But a defiant Mr Kotthoff said he would not be paying the bill.

“I’ll pay the $300 electricity bill, but I won’t pay that charge,” he said.

“They’ll probably shut my electricity off.”

A spokesman for Ergon Energy said the electricity provider had a number of standard fixed charges applied to customer service works right across regional Queensland, including $179.96 for the removal of an electricity meter and/or tariff control relays.

“This fee has been calculated to reflect the average cost of work to attend the site, recover the meter, check the wiring and terminations are safe and final processing,” he said.

Ergon Energy covers 97% of Queensland outside the south-east corner and some properties in outlying areas are several hundred kilometres from the nearest depot.



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