Customers balk at skyrocketing power bills - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Customers balk at skyrocketing power bills

One Huntsville Utilities customer says he took steps to minimize power use and still got a $350 bill in the mail. One Huntsville Utilities customer says he took steps to minimize power use and still got a $350 bill in the mail.

A Madison County man is questioning his power bill after it jumped more than $200.

Huntsville Utilities representatives blame the arctic blast, saying customers are seeing on average a 40 percent increase.

Gary Cobb said his December bill was only $116. His most recent bill was $354. "I called them and asked them why such a large bill, and they said there was a possibility that they misread the meter," Cobb said.

According to Cobb, the company then instructed him it would cost more than $100 to have someone come out and check their own equipment, and that is not something he wants to pay for.

The company said there is a fee if a meter is re-read and turns out to be correct. If the meter is incorrect, the fee is waived. Huntsville Utilities spokesperson Bill Yell said that extreme cold – not a mis-read on a meter – is the reason most customers should expect to see an increase on their bills.

"If you've got that thermostat set on 72 on a 40-degree day, and on 72 on a 5-degree day, you're going to use a whole lot more energy on that 5-degree day than you would on that 40-degree day," he said.

Cobb said his thermostat doesn't go above 70 and he does his best to conserve energy. He now checks his meter daily.

While Huntsville Utilities works with Cobb on his complaints, people who know their bill is legitimately high could possibly be faced with back-to-back bills higher than normal. Huntsville Utilities continues to advise customers that they have payment plans available, but they must contact the company first and not wait until it is due.

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