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The Committee of Consumer Services has asked state regulators to investigate the problems Questar Gas discovered with transmitters that sent wrong information from natural gas meters on about 500 of its customers' homes.

The committee asked for the investigation even as the Public Service Commission was pondering how to handle complaints from those consumers upset over Questar's plans to back bill them because the company's meters were off.

The PSC could announce as early as today that it is opening a full investigation into the matter.

"It's encouraging the PSC is willing to take a look at this problem," said Art Wasek, who was hit with an extra $1,200 on his natural gas bill. "I would hope they will be able to get some of the answers that I've been unable to get - such as why the transponders [transmitters] were never checked for accuracy."

The Salt Lake Tribune reported Thursday that as many as 500 consumers faced the additional charges from Questar. The utility said on average each family owes approximately $1,200.

"We want the public to know that utilities are not automatically entitled to recover all costs from ratepayers for unjustified mistakes," said Michele Beck, director of the Committee of Consumer Services in a statement explaining the request for an investigation.

Beck said the panel decided to get involved in the dispute to ensure that the facts of the case are probed and thoroughly scrutinized through the regulatory process.

Its request asks the PSC to determine when Questar knew about its transmitter problem and to determine when the utility should have been aware that it was receiving incorrect data from its transponders, which send signals about customers' natural gas consumption to computers inside company trucks being driven down residential streets.

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