Brrrr. Melanie and her housemate have no heat or gas after the Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) turned off the gas four days ago. She’s never missed a payment but they tell her they need to investigate “meter tampering” because they found two loose screws on her meter. It’s 48 degrees in her house and she has no way to cook anything. Customer service can’t tell her when the “meter investigation unit” will get around to checking it out and there’s no way she can get in contact with them. UPDATE: Melanie reports that after this post went up and we contacted PGW, they called her and said they’re coming to turn the heat back on this afternoon.
I’m a Philadelphia resident who pays all her utility bills on time and in full.
PGW turned off our gas on Thursday morning. We haven’t had gas since then so it’s 48 degrees inside our home, we can’t cook, and we don’t have hot water. Thursday morning PGW entered the house using a locksmith while we were at work in order to turn off the gas (there had been a gas leak on our street). When they looked at the meter, they saw that “2 screws were loose” and that the “meter had been tampered with” (quotes were read to me from PGW over the phone). So, they turned off the gas and removed the meter for investigation by the Meter Investigation Unit (MIU).
The PGW agent informed me that my case is in the hands of the MIU which has NO contact number so I cannot followup with them. When the MIU finishes its investigation, they will call me; thus, my gas is shut off indefinitely.
In a separate incident, PGW came in our house to turn off our gas at the end of November when there was construction work on our street. Two days later they came back to our house to restore it. If there was evidence of tampering with the meter, why did those PGW employees NOT report anything then? The last people to touch our meter were those PGW employees! Nor my roommate nor I have EVER touched our gas meter.
To add insult to injury, PGW left our house on Thursday without locking the door. So they let themselves in but then left our house unsecured!
PGW said my case is in the hands of the MIU (again, NO contact information for them). My housemate and I are both working professionals (as a matter of fact, I am a city employee). We are both staying with friends until the issue is resolved. There is the distinct possibility that the pipes will freeze since we ARE in the dead of winter.
Have you tried getting in touch with your local public utility commission? They might be able to help.
We’ve reached out to Philadelphia Gas Works and they said they are looking into the issue. We will keep you posted.
UPDATE: We spoke with a rep for PGW who said that they entered Melanie’s house with a locksmith and a police officer, as is their standard procedure, because no one was home and they were investigating reports of a gas leak in the area. When they came into the house they found that the meter had been tampered with in a way that could have created a dangerous situation. The meter has caps on it and other safety mechanisms to prevent against leaks and other hazards. When they find a meter has been tampered with, their protocol is to remove the meter and shut off the gas and conduct an investigation and they have three business days to restore gas. PGW is now sending someone to Melanie’s house to turn the gas back on, which she is extremely grateful for, writing to Consumerist, “THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.”