(St.Joseph,MO) Hundreds of KCP&L customers are in shock after seeing a major surge in their electric bill.
Susan Rice is a KCP&L customer from Agency, Missouri and she said her utility bill took a big hit this summer.
"When I received my June bill it was twice as much as the previous month and I had not used twice as much power," Rice said. “My May bill was around $110 and then the June bill was $220.”
After calling into the utility company, Rice was told the extreme heat was behind her increased bill.
“Essentially the summer rate is twice as much per kilowatt hour as the rest of the year,” Rice said.
From May to September KCP&L customers see a slight base increase.KCP&L Spokesperson Jeremy McNeive said the summer bills are often higher based on energy use.
“The bottom line is that we had one of the hottest Mays on record, and we had a record set in June,” McNeive said. “What people are seeing in their July bill reflects their energy use from those two very hot months.”
After seeing a few cases of meter misreads, Rice said she isn’t convinced the heat is the only factor for the increased cost.
"They will take four months of bad press with various excuses like didn't read the meters correctly, or hot weather or level pay has changed. They will do diversionary tactics but at the end of four months they have made a lot of money," Rice said.
The increased summer billing isn’t the only charge customers are seeing, many are also dealing with the company's recent changes to their Budget Billing program. Under the new changes, if a customer’s bill changes by 10 percent, the bill will be recalculated. The higher the energy use, the more the monthly charge will be for that month and for following months to cover the extra use.
“Our budget billing customers now with their August bill are now starting to see their true up, which was part of the adjustment we made in our Budget Billing program,”McNeive said.
KCP&L has asked the Missouri Public Service Commission to consider an additional rate increase for the year. An evidentiary hearing for KCP&L’s requested increase is scheduled for September 17.
In response to the summer charges and KCP&L’s request to raise rates, over 60,000 customers have signed an online petition demanding the company be audited.
"I think the biggest thing around the petition is as a very highly regulated company, we are being audited. We are in the middle of being audited in both Missouri and Kansas as a part of these rate cases," McNeive said.
McNeive said the company won’t be disconnecting customers in September and will be offering extended payment options to give customers a chance to catch up on their summer bills.
"People have got to call KCP&L, we really want to hear from our customers. We need them to call KCP&L Customer Care Center in order to get on a payment plan,"McNeive said.
Customers that need to arraign a payment plan can reach the KCP&L Customer Care line at 816-471-5275 or 888-471-5275.