Customers feel cold shock of high energy bill

January's serious cold snap will soon leave its mark on wallets throughout the Triangle.

"Customer bills are coming up significantly higher than they did last year in January," Mike Hughes with Progress Energy said.

Progress Energy isn't the only company giving customers a heads up, back in early January Duke Energy says its customer also set an all-time record for winter power use.

Progress Energy has a variety of billing cycles - meaning some customers will feel the pinch more than others.

"Some customers are getting bills that reflect the last half of December and the first half of January, so it's not going to affect everybody in the exact same way," Hughes said.

The new wave of power bills will likely put an additional strain on energy assistance programs, like the one Betsy Moore coordinates in Wake County. She says anyone with a disconnect notice who meets the criteria can apply for help.

"There's been more people coming in applying for assistance with the economic downfall," Moore said.

She says there are state funds and corporate funds like Progress Energy's neighborhood program still available.

"Its crisis intervention and we're here to try to keep people from facing a crisis they can't deal with for a multitude of reasons," Moore said.

In the meantime, energy officials are pushing several power saving tips that could add up to big savings; like maintaining a steady temperature at home, covering bare floors with carpet or rugs, limiting space heater use and changing filters monthly.

Progress Energy says it's willing to set up payment plans with customers struggling to pay their bill.

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