Posted: May 7, 2012 4:49 PM
Updated: May 8, 2012 11:59 AM
WESLACO - A Weslaco church is fighting to stay open. The Better Business is now involved in a dispute between Templo Betania and Direct Energy.
The church needs to come up with more than $4,000 to take care of a hefty electric bill.
"We are working to try to get the rest of the money... any collections... We are doing fundraisers. A lot of people in the community have stood up and helped us," said Maria Morales, an Templo Betania employee.
Her father is the pastor at the church. She handles the business end of things. She contacted 5 On Your Side last month, asking us to look into why the church's electric bills are so high.
She also filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. BBB Regional Office President Delores Salinas said the agency is trying to help the church and Direct Energy come to a compromise.
"All we do is act as an independent third party to help both of them, hopefully, resolve the situation," explained Salinas.
The issue surrounds an equal payment plan the church signed up for the plan. It runs on an annual cycle and works by forecasting the expected annual electricity use and dividing it into 12 equal payments over the year.
Morales said she thought she'd be saving money. It turns out she was wrong. CPL Retail Energy, which is owned by Direct Energy, is trying to work something out with the church through the Better Business Bureau.
But Morales said the settlement amount offered is still too high. She believes the church was taken advantage of.
Salinas says CPL Retail Energy has an A+ rating with the BBB. She thinks there was a communication breakdown.
Morales is worried and fears the church will have to close if its electricity is cut off. She says the electricity is still on only because of the ongoing negotiation. We reached out to CPL Retail energy. Right now, a company spokesperson is working on getting some details together for us. Direct Energy is in the process of looking over the bill. They are trying to find out why the church's electricity costs reached such a high amount.