High electric bills have people worried

By: Samantha Saracino Email
By: Samantha Saracino Email

More cold weather will likely take more out of your wallet. Sky-rocketing electric bills, sometimes hundreds more from month to month, have people across Kentucky wanting answers. Today, lawmakers called utility companies to Frankfort to explain why some are paying so much more.

Power company officials say the cold weather we've had plays a huge role in how high people's electric bills are, but that's not the only thing. American Electric Power increased rates 17 percent all at once, and people are feeling it.

People's electric bills are on the rise.

"It went up from 80 dollars to probably over 200 dollars," said David Berryman, who was frustrated with his high bill.

Most don't like it and some say they can't afford it.

"You got to buy groceries and pay heat bills, it affects your budget if you have to pay for things like health insurance. It affects you all around," Berryman said.

Some county leaders say it is getting ridiculous.

"No one in america should be forced to make difficult decisions of whether to eat, buy their medication or keep from freezing to death and that's exactly what is happening," said Wayne T. Rutherford, the Pike County Judge Executive.

At a meeting held in Frankfort with the utility companies and the Kentucky Public Service Commission, officials expressed their concerns.

"We've got people that's actually lighting their houses with lanterns. We're going to have people freezing to death, we're going to have people burning up in their homes. We have got a disaster," said Wayne Flemming, the Letcher County Magistrate.

American Electric Power blames the cold weather.

"If the outside air temperature is in the 20's, you're going to use more electricity to heat your homes than if it's in the 40's," said Mike Lasslo, from American Electric Power.

Mix the high usage with the 17 percent rate increase and you easily have a higher bill, something officials say people need to get used to.

"I don't want to alarm people but the rate is not going to go down. I know that's what some of the customers would like to see," Lasslo explained.

AEP officials say right now, conservation is key.

The Kentucky Public Service Commission will be holding workshops sometime this month in several counties so people can learn more about controlling their usage and lowering their bills.

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