AG Investigates Spikes in Power Bills

By David Chang
|  Thursday, Feb 27, 2014  |  Updated 12:01 PM EDT
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Sticker shock is spreading across the area as those power bills come in the mail. NBC10’s George Spencer finds out what your bill should actually look like.

NBC10.com - George Spencer

Sticker shock is spreading across the area as those power bills come in the mail. NBC10’s George Spencer finds out what your bill should actually look like.

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Questioning your recent power bill?

You're not alone and the sudden increase in electricity costs has Pennsylvania's Attorney General Kathleen Kane looking for answers. 

"These spikes in the price of electricity are alarming and have put many consumers, especially the poor and elderly, in a dire situation," Kane said. "It is my duty to protect consumers and act on their behalf. We are looking at these price increases and will be prepared to take action to protect affected consumers."

Kane said consumers can help her office's investigation by sending documentation to her office. (Click here for details)

Kane's investigation comes in response to people like Lisa Valaitis of Downingtown who was stunned when she saw her $650 power bill.

“We have literally no extra money,” Valaitis said. “So this is a big problem to a family like us.”

Valaitis is not alone in her shock. Around 400 people reached out to NBC10 on our Facebook Page and reported similarly high costs on their power bill.

NBC10 went to PECO, one of the area’s biggest power companies, for answers.

“PECO’s rates have remained constant since January,” said Ben Armstrong, a PECO spokesman.

With PECO’s rates unchanged, experts say two things may be causing the sky-high bills. 

Officials say that even if PECO delivers your power, you may have selected a different supplier with fluctuating rates. When demand spikes like it has this winter, so do prices.

Officials also say many customers may have used more power than they thought.

“When it’s colder outside, you’re going to use more energy to heat your home,” Armstrong said.

Officials say the average customer should expect up to a 15 percent spike in their bill this winter. While low-income customers who fall behind can’t have their power shut off during cold months, officials recommend that other customers form a payment plan.

“They spread it out,” Valaitis said. “But it’s going to be added each month to whatever our regular bill is.”

If power suppliers are increasing prices above any increased cost, it may also be considered price gouging. You should document and report any complaints with your power bill to the State Bureau of Consumer Protection.

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