Reading utility bills can be frustrating. The total amount is usually higher than we think it should be, and figuring out why is nearly impossible.

But one Connecticut woman now knows the reason for her inflated bills: for more than two decades, she was paying the cost of juicing two city streetlamps.

Between the late 1980s and very recently, Grace Edwards had two strange line items on her power bills — “9500 Lumen HP Sodium” and “6300 Lumen HP Sodium.” And even after repeated calls to her local utility company, she couldn’t make sense of them.

She finally learned that she’d been paying $20 a month for the past 25 years for the underground electricity that powers two street lights in her subdivision. But even after bringing the error to the attention of Connecticut Light & Power, she got the runaround.

“CL&P said it was always on the bill and up to me to inform them of the mistake,” Edwards says. “I said, ‘How could I inform you of something I didn’t know about?’”

It was only after she contacted the Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC) and the Hartford Courant newspaper that Edwards finally got resolution — and a check for about $10,500 for the amount she’d overpaid plus interest.

Taren O’Connor, the OCC’s consumer information representative, said it never should’ve taken so long to sort things out, adding, “[Someone should've said] ‘Oh, wait a minute. Did you realize you are paying for two street lights?’ Because I’m guessing that is not normal.”

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