PEMISCOT COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - One couple in Braggadocio has been living without electricity for nearly one month. Richard Connell and Stephanie Guthrie said Ameren Missouri will not turn on the electricity in their rental home until a bill of $2,100 has been paid by the previous renter.
"They told me, 'we are not denying you electric. We just can't give it to you until the bill is paid,'" Connell said. "So, that's denying me electric. They said, 'No. That's not denying you electric, that's denying electric to the house."
Connell and the previous owner share the last name because they are siblings. However, Connell said the fact that they are related should not mean he is responsible for his sister's bill.
"She [the previous owner] refuses to pay it, refuses to talk to them [the electric company] or even set up payment arrangements," Connell said. "She said it's cheaper to buy gas for a generator than it is for me to fool with it."
Connell said he runs a generator during the evening hours, which costs about $20 per night.
Ameren Missouri officials said they are unable to discuss the specific case but said in a statement, "Ameren Missouri always wants to work out billing issues with its customers. We have a variety of programs to help customers make payments. It is our goal to make sure our customers are treated fairly. If any customer believes they are not responsible for someone else's bill, they need to contact us at 800.552.7583 so we can investigate the situation."
Connell said he has tried to get this resolved through the electric company but has not been successful. He said he has also talked with lawyers.
"They tell me I have the right to send the electric company a copy of the past bills that were in my name at a previous address because that's the only thing I need to do to prove it," Connell said. "So, I sent that (a copy of my rent lease) and called them back. They told me, 'That's not good enough.'"
Another question Connell and his neighbors are asking is "How did the bill get that high before the electricity was shut off?"
"When you get your bill, its got a shut-off notice that tells you if you don't pay it at that time you'll be shut-off," Tony Cannon said. "That is a lot less than $2,000. I want to say you get shut off at $200 so I don't know how the bill got that outstanding in the first place."
Ameren officials said the point at which electricity is shut off varies depending on the situation.