Customers feel heat of spiking energy costs

August 2, 2010 12:49:54 PM PDT
For many, the worst of the Triangle's latest heat wave is yet to come. After dealing with the heat, customers will also have to deal with their power bills.

Those who ran their air conditioning at low settings for the past month might be surprised at the bill they receive.

"Wow! It's like looking at a double bill," Progress Energy customer William Meeks said. "And it's very expensive!"

When usage spikes, as it did during June and July, customers may have to dig deeper when it's time to pay the bills.

For those who have trouble paying the whopping bills, many utility companies offer alternatives.

"With some higher bills, customers may experience some problems paying those bills. So we encourage them to contact our customer service department as early in the process as possible," Progress Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said. "Don't wait for the day we're gonna disconnect the power."

Right now, some customers with big power bills are cutting other essential purchases.

"And that's hard when you've got to subsidize what your kids have, what they're gonna eat for dinner," Meeks said.

"If customers with extreme cases financially, there's our Energy Neighbor Fund that's designed to help customers pay their energy bills," Brooks said. "That's available through the local department of social services."

Duke Energy also offers special assistance plans.

Despite the good news, it is only August. There is still more summer and potentially hot weather left.

"I hope not," Meeks said. "I hope we don't have another heat wave!"

Until the weather cools down, you can set your thermostat higher and sign up foran equal payment plan with your local power provider.

It equalizes your payments over 12 months, and that way you'll be able to budget better when the temperatures really soar.


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