This Hawaiian couple was shocked after they received a staggering USD-18,000 electricity bill for streetlights.
The Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) reportedly served the stunned couple the USD-18,000 (GBP-13,300) bill for the streetlights after telling them that they owned the street they live on.
The bizarre situation arose after the City of Honolulu told the electricity company that it did not own the land where the couple lives and where there is a street with streetlights.
Desha-Ann and her husband Rashaan Kealoha, who live at Halemaluhia Place in the census-designated place of Waianae in Honolulu County on the island of Oahu in the US state of Hawaii, discovered that after reviewing the area, Hawaiian Electric had found out that a number of accounts did not have customer names.
This was the case specifically for the streetlights on the street on which the couple live.
The electricity company queried the City of Honolulu about it in October 2020, with the latter replying in November 2020 that Halemaluhia Place was not designated to the city or the county.
And now, over a year later, the couple have reportedly received an electricity bill demanding that they pay nearly USD 20,000 to keep the streetlights on, on 27th January 2022.
Desha-Ann Kealoha said: “I was shocked, overwhelmed and confused, but still remained hopeful that there is some solution to this.”
She also said that before they received the letter, some of her neighbours had called the electricity company to have a streetlight repaired after it went out, and the company reportedly said that it could not assess it because the road was private.
HECO has been reviewing streetlight accounts in Oahu since June 2020, and it found that some of these accounts “did not have an existing customer”, according to the electricity company itself in its letter to the couple dated 27th January.
The electricity company said that it had asked the city about the street, and the city had said that it was not “dedicated” to the city.
Then the electricity company sent the couple the letter, in which it explained that it had “recently learned” that the couple supposedly owns the street.
The electricity company said in its letter: “Because you own the street upon which the streetlights are located, Hawaiian Electric believes that you are responsible for the payment of electric energy supplied to these streetlights.”
Desha-Ann said she and her husband had signed a mortgage that did not say they were buying the whole street. She has since reached out to her estate agent, who has, in turn, reached out to the escrow office.
HECO spokesperson Shannon Tangonan said in a statement: “We’re working with all parties and have spoken with the Kealohas.”
She added: “We want to assure them that we don’t expect them to pay the outstanding bill. Our goal is to determine who owns the street where the streetlights are located so that the bill can be paid going forward.”
Desha-Ann replied: “That is definitely a common goal that I hope can be resolved as well!”
She added: “Failure for the developers to complete the dedication process should not be my issue. Not sure who dropped the ball here, but it’s out of my control.”