Homeowners Question Sudden Power Cutoffs

Oncor says lines were cut over safety hazard

By Scott Gordon
|  Wednesday, May 23, 2012  |  Updated 11:21 PM CDT
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Two neighbors say their electricity was cut for no reason and without notice. Oncor says it cut the homeowners' lines because of an immediate safety hazard.

Scott Gordon, NBC 5 News

Two neighbors say their electricity was cut for no reason and without notice. Oncor says it cut the homeowners' lines because of an immediate safety hazard.

Two homeowners in an upscale North Dallas neighborhood say Oncor Electric Delivery cut off their electricity for no reason and without notice.

But Oncor, which operates the state's largest distribution and transmission system, said the incidents were a safety issue.

Marty Toole said he found his power off, his electric meter gone and his line cut when he came home from work on Monday.

"It's an outrageous story, in my opinion," he said. "It's wrong."

After a few phone calls, he learned that Oncor had done it.

"To have them cut your wires and not tell you -- that's not right," he said.

The same day, neighbor Melissa Lipshy came home to find an Oncor worker cutting her line, too.

"And he said, 'I'm sorry but my orders are to leave here with the meter and to cut your wires with no notice,'" she said. "I was dumbfounded."

Both said that their electricity seemed to be working fine and that they had paid their bills.

"I had no problem," Lipshy said. "The bills showed no problem. And we had no notice."

Oncor spokeswoman Ashley Burton said the company usually gives customers 10 days to fix any problems but that there was an immediate safety hazard in these cases.

"When there are issues with wires, it can become a safety hazard, so we needed to turn the power off until the repairs were made," she said.

Toole said he needed to hire a private electrician who charged him more than $4,300 to put in a new meter and make other repairs. His power was off for 30 hours.

Lipshy had to pay $850. She was without electricity for about nine hours, she said.

Burton said the problem was in the base of the meter, where the lines connect from inside the house.

"The meter base is the responsibility of the customer," she said.

When asked why Toole wasn't notified that his power was cut off, Burton said the normal practice is for crews to leave homeowners a note.

It wasn't clear why Toole didn't get one.

Toole said he will pay his repair bill if he is responsible for it but isn't happy about the lack of notification from Oncor.

"It becomes a little homeowner against a utility, and you're never going to win with that," he said.

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