Local

Reliant Energy shuts off neighborhood's power

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

One neighborhood is without power tonight, but its not because of a problem with its power company. Instead, the power company says homeowners should blame the blackout on their homeowners association.

Reliant Energy turned off the street lights along the subdivision in the 12300 block of Heritage Grove. The company says the HOA has not paid its bill, and residents are concerned about their area's safety.

Most of us never think it could happen. The street lights getting turned off because our HOA has paid the bill for months.

It's a little tough to play basketball in the dark, but kids in Kleinbrook don't really have a choice. Their HOA is past due on its street light electric bills, so Reliant Energy shut them off two weeks ago.

"I couldn't see my neighbors across the street, I couldn't see their cars or anything hardly; and when I turned the corner coming in, it was so dark I didn't know what was going on," resident Johnny Aldridge said.

For many homeowners street lights equal safety and now residents say their Kleinbrook HOA has left them vulnerable.

"The crime rate is up here. We've already had home invasions in our neighborhood. Now we have no lights. It makes us a sitting target," resident Maggie Cole said.

Reliant Energy sent a notice out to residents informing them why the street lights were cut off. The Kleinbrook HOA is past due more than $52,000.

Homeowners were already suspicious their annual $300 HOA dues were not being used appropriately when they were asked to pay them in advance.

"Absolutely, they wanted their money early. They wanted it the 2012 dues in 2011 because they didn't have enough money to meet that month's electric bill," Cole said.

The Kleinbrook HOA, residents say, is not really an association of homeowners since the HOA is still run by the developer of the neighborhood, Mint Homes. HOA president Mark Falkenstein has not returned our calls or those of residents.

"Since 2004, we've never had an accounting of what the expenses and money goes for," Cole said.

"I would like to know what they are doing with that money, because that's my portion and I know a lot of other homeowners have paid theirs. So where is the money going? What are they doing with it?" resident Amy Smith said.

Residents say they're now considering legal action against the HOA and might try to dissolve it.

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