Wednesday, February 06, 2002

Whoops - you owe us, county gets told

Cinergy says it goofed on stadium billing

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A mistake by Cinergy Corp. in calculating the electricity bills at Paul Brown Stadium during its first two years of operation means about $180,000 in underbilling must be paid from the county's stadium budget.

        The figure is imprecise because Cinergy officials are still trying to add up the exact amount.

        “They told us there are still some things they have to calculate,” said Eric Stuckey, assistant county administrator.

        Steve Brash, a Cinergy spokesman, said the error happened when a computer code was entered incorrectly, resulting in meter readings at the stadium every 10 minutes instead of every 15 minutes.

        “Consequently, the full level of demand during those 15-minute intervals was consistently low,” hesaid. “So we've got to go back and check every interval, every day. It's a very big job.”

        The amount underbilled averages about $10,000 per month. The stadium paid an average of $106,000 per month for its energy usage at the stadium.

        Eric Brown, the stadium's manager, who is no relation to Bengals owner Mike Brown, said the back payment will cramp the stadium's operating budget.

        “We don't know what the payment terms are going to be,” Mr. Brown said. “Those will be ongoing discussions with Cinergy on how that all gets accomplished.”

        Cinergy's Mr. Brash said the company typically approves a repayment schedule that is as long as the error occurred — 18 months in this case. “Since this was our error, we want to make sure the bill we present to the county is correct, and we would certainly discuss with the county a payment plan that goes over that period of time,” he said.

        The stadium had its first game in August 2000, but the Bengals took possession of their offices in June.


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