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2 Investigators: More Unexplained Power Bill Spikes

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HER HOME WAS EMPTY FOR MONTHS. WHY DID HER ELECTRIC BILL GO UP? LOOKING INTO THIS AND OTHER ELECTRICAL SPIKES AND TELLS WHAT YOU TO DO IF YOUR BILL SPIKES. Reporter: ALL OF THE PROBLEMS STARTED WHEN IT GOT INSTALLED? YES. VERONICA BELIEVES HER 77- YEAR-OLD MOTHER IS A VICTIM. DO YOU FEEL LIKE SHE HAS BEEN TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF? I DO. YES. DEFINITELY. YES. CAREFUL. Reporter: SHE SAYS HER ELECTRIC BILL SKYROCKETED AFTER A NEW METER WAS INSTALLED. THE USAGE EVEN DOUBLED DURING AN 8 MONTH PERIOD WHILE SHE LIVED AWAY AT A HOSPITAL AT A REHAB BILL. YOUR BILL WENT UP. YES. I WAS IN THE HOSPITAL MY ELECTRIC WENT UP. NO ONE WAS HERE. FIRST, 30% INCREASE AND THEN 70%. 142% INCREASE. WE LITERALLY WENT THROUGH EVERY ROOM TO MAKE SURE WE UNPLUGGED EVERYTHING. Reporter: THE FAMILY SAYS THEY COMPLAINED. THEY JUST KEPT TELLING US IT WAS SOMETHING THAT WE WERE DOING. Reporter: SHE SAYS THE METER WAS INSPECTED AND THAT IT WAS FINE. HE CAME OUT AND CHECKED IT A YEAR LATER THE BILLS WENT DOWN? YES. DOES NOT SOUND RIGHT. I KNOW. I DON’T FEEL LIKE WE ARE GETTING A STRAIGHT ANSWER. Reporter: WE LOOKED INTO OTHER SIMILAR COMPLAINTS. UNEXPLAINED USAGE SPIKES. THEN BILLS RETURNING TO NORMAL AFTER THEY CHECKED THE METERS AND SAID THEY ARE FINE. SHE SAID IT HAPPENED TO HER. IT WAS NOT A DEFECTED METER WHY WOULD IT GO DOWN TO NORMAL WHEN A NEW METER WAS PUT IN. AND JACKIE, TOO. IT WENT AWAY AFTER A YEAR. IF WE THINK THAT THE CUSTOMER WAS WRONG, WE FIGHT LIKE HECK FOR THE CUSTOMER TO GET A REFUND. Reporter: JIM FROM THE UTILITY BOARD SAYS THEY ARE LOOKING INTO THE COMPLAINTS. FOR THOSE THAT WANT TO MAKE SURE YOUR METER READS ARE ACCURATE? YOU REQUEST THE COMMERCE COMMISSION TO REFEREE A METER TEST TO HAVE ANOTHER SET OF EYES ON THE METER. ABSOLUTELY NOT. THIS IS HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS OVER A COURSE OF A FEW MONTHS. ARE THEY TELLING YOU THAT THEY WILL GIVE YOU MONEY BACK? NO, NO, NO, NO. YOU ARE OUT ALL OF THIS MONEY? YES. Reporter: THEY URGE CUSTOMERS TO CALL IF THE BILLS SPIKE. TO GET A REFEREE, SEND A LETTER AND $20 TO THE AGENCY BUT THERE ARE ONLY 2 ON STAFF. ANOTHER OPTION, HAVE COM-ED OR PRIVATE COMPANY AUDIT YOUR USAGE. IN THE NEWS ROOM, BACK TO YOU.

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