Power surge fries homeowners electronics, Duke Energy won’t pay up on claims

INDIAN LAND, SC (WBTV) – Dozens of homeowners in Indian land are frustrated after they are forced to pay for thousands of dollars of personal belongings damaged in their homes after a power surge.

Duke Energy says the surge was caused by equipment breakdown, but now the company is refusing to cover the cost of the damage.

Homeowners turned to WBTV for help to share their story.

In Silver Run and Glen Laurel dozens of homeowners say they felt a surge in electricity on Jan. 9.

“It literally sounded like someone was firing a gun right behind my back door and I started screaming,” Nicole Scotty told WBTV.

Laurel Castano said they smelled smoke and found a small fire on one of their networks.

“We were in a panic. I shouted. He shouted. I was looking for my fire extinguisher, ”Castana said.

The shock of electricity has led to the frying of many of their valuables.

Homeowners told WBTV about broken equipment, including a refrigerator, oven, motherboards for AC and heaters and even a broken hot tub.

Their electricity is provided by Duke Energy, and as soon as they started calling to find out what happened, homeowners said Duke employees told them they could file a claim for damages.

“One of the line said it was our fault,” said one homeowner.

“You just make a claim to Duke and they’ll take care of it.”

“I didn’t ask for it, he initiated it, and he said,‘ Oh, we’ll take care of that, ’” another homeowner said.

The claims are being handled by a company called Sedgwick, but a Duke spokesman told WBTV that the final decision on whether to reimburse customers remains with the energy company.

All homeowners were denied claims, although a letter from Sedgwick acknowledged that the problem was caused by an “unforeseen equipment failure” on Duke’s network.

WBTV interviewed Jeff Brooks of Duke Energy. Brooks said Duke employees should never have told customers that claims would be paid and that Duke does not normally cover losses from unpredictable outages, even if it’s a failure of the company’s own equipment.

“We will definitely work to understand why this equipment has failed,” Brooks told WBTV.

“How many claims does this leave, on which you actually pay?” A WBTV reporter asked Brooks.

“There are still some claims that arise because of different things. If it was a mistake in Duke Energy or part of something that was installed incorrectly, ”Brooks said.

“It sounds like a Duke Energy bug,” a WBTV reporter said.

“Well, what is it, it’s a malfunction of a piece of equipment,” Brooks said.

Ultimately, Duke told homeowners that they would cover the cost of service calls but would not pay for actual damage or replacement items.

“We are still in a pandemic, many of us have lost our jobs. We still have to pay the electricity bills, so why don’t they comply with those requirements? ” Said homeowner Larry Hackcher.

On the Duke website, the company lists claims for power outages that they do not normally cover, such as incidents caused by the weather, negligence of a third party, such as hitting a driver on a power pole or damaging animals.

There is no mention of non-coverage of losses caused by failure of own equipment.

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