LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Dozens of complaints to the 11 Listens email have come from North Little Rock homeowners who are upset over high electricity bills.
We went to North Little Rock electric to get answers as to why so many customers said their bills have doubled. A caption on Facebook read “yikes!” under a homeowner’s photo of his $307.74 electricity bill.
And from there the comments kept coming, one after the next, customers shared their frustration with North Little Rock Electric's high energy costs.
"It's common for their bills to be higher this time of year due to their usage that's just because of the heat and humidity in Arkansas," Jill Ponder, the North Little Rock Electric business operations manager said. While one customer referenced a mild summer, Ponder said their equipment still had to work just as hard to remove the humidity from the air.
“That, plus the price to buy power on the open market went up—resulting in higher costs,” Ponder said. "We do have an energy cost recovery that is slightly higher than it was last year."
That ECR adjustment is applied to each customer's monthly bill. If you head to the company’s website you'll see the ECR increased this year about 10 percent compared to September of last year.
"Our costs were lower in ‘16 and for the entire year of ’16,” Ponder said. “We were actually giving money back to the customer, as well as for the first 6 months of 2017."
Still, some questioned the accuracy of the company’s smart meters. One customer said her bill tripled after the meter was installed. Another wrote, "mine was twice the normal charge after my meter was changed."
"If we've had any issues with our newer meters it means that it's not communicating,” Ponder said. “And we know when they don't communicate, and then we can investigate it."
Ponder said customers can test the meter by turning off all the breakers at their home to see if the meter still runs. She said to be mindful of other things that could affect the bill. "If there [are] more people in the home, if you like it cooler or warmer depending on who is in the home, those are all things that may contribute to higher bills," she added.
North Little Rock Electric offers free energy evaluations to find ways to help save money.