HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) An Alabama utility is faced with paying a big utility bill.

Huntsville Utilities says it mistakenly shortchanged the Tennessee Valley Authority by $37.6 million for electricity used since late 2003 and now has to repay the money.

William C. Pippin, the utility's president and chief executive officer, said Wednesday the error is forcing the utility to move up a  planned rate hike.

Pippin said the utility will ask the Huntsville City Council for permission to increase residential and commercial electric rates by 3.5 percent starting in September. That would cost the average homeowner about $4.90 per month

TVA, which generates all the electricity used in Madison County, has approved the higher charge.

Chief Operating Officer Jay Stowe said multiple auditors failed to notice the billing problem.


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