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Area Electric Companies Explain Bill Increases

LAWTON Okla_ Some area residents were shocked to open up their electric bills this month and find them sky high.

Various electric companies including PSO, Caddo Electrical Co-op, and Cotton Electric say they've been getting complaints. Customers are telling them they're being charged double and in some cases triple the amount they're used to paying. Now, they want answers.

I heard stories of electric bills that normally range from $100-$200 bucks skyrocket to $300 and $400. The guys who spoke to 7News said the only person to blame is old man winter. Aside from a handful of nice days, we have had some very chilling and freezing temperatures the past month. PSO's Community Affairs Manager Tim Hushbeck knows these cold temps can cause rising bills.

"We're reaching these temperatures in the single digits and down in there, your heater is going to run additionally," Hushbeck said. "If you have a heat pump, at a certain point it kicks off, and you go straight to resistance heat, which is a more expensive way to heat a home."

Resistance heat, or emergency heat, is when your heater kicks into high gear and uses around three times the energy your heater normally uses. Bobby Burris of Pippin Brothers said the more efficient your heater's heat pump is, the more money you'll save. He said you can check just how efficient your unit is by checking its season energy efficiency rating also known as SE-ER.

"They go anywhere now from 13 to 21," Burris said. "The higher SE-ER rating you can get, the more efficient your unit is going to be."

If you know your unit is efficient but still saw a bill hike, Hushbeck said you may have been undercharged for your previous bill. If crews in your area weren't able to reach your meter to read it because of the ice storm or unsafe road conditions, that bill would have been an estimate, based on your previous usage. Then, once a precise reading was made, it got tacked on this month.

"If they paid an estimated bill last month that was lower then the actual kilowatts they used, that will be made up this month to get them back to where they were," Hushbeck said.

Some complained that new smart meters that replaced analog meters in Caddo and Cotton Counties are to blame. That isn't the case. Lawton will be getting those same smart meters in about a year and half.

Other things to check on to see where heat might be escaping your home are insulation levels, the tightness of your duct work, and the design of your duct work.


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