The electric bills doubled this month for some Slemco customers.
The utility company says there is an easy explanation, but some customers are questioning why they’re seeing a record bill for August.
“That’s really outrageous”, Shelly Meche told me about her energy bill. “It went from $133 to $252. That’s a big increase”.
Meche says she’s never paid a $200 electric bill. She’s one of many customers confused by such a big jump.
“I have no idea”. admitted Meche. “I want to know how they got that”.
We asked Slemco. Their Communication Manager Mary Laurent reminded us of their first priority in an energy crisis. “All our focus after a hurricane goes to power restoration”, said Laurent. “Absolutely no holds barred. That’s the first thing we’ve got to get done”.
Meaning while power was being restored, meters were not being read in Mire.
“They had their bills estimated for the month of July”, explained Laurent.
Slemco used the average readings from April, May, and June to create July’s bill.
“It was a usage that was probably a little artificially low”, admits Laurent. She says normally no one would notice the difference, but with Hurricane Barry so early in the season, the three months previous estimate was way off”.
Meche wasn’t expecting such a large difference, “I really didn’t think it could be that bad. Maybe a $50 increase”.
But now some people are seeing a $100, $200 increase. That is because Slemco added the difference between July’s estimates and reality to this month’s bill.
“They either got caught up, so to speak”, said Laurent. “In other words, they got billed for whatever else they normally would have been billed for in July.”
“No, last month’s bill was normal”, Meche told me when I explained the change, and she isn’t the only one in mire who don’t see the math and hopes this surprise doesn’t happen again.
Meche says, “They should have checked the meters instead of just guessing”.
Others who didn’t want to go on camera pointed out that Slemco is their only choice when it comes to electricity, so regardless of their concerns, there is not another option.
Slemco says when hurricanes hit in September or October, their estimates are much closer to the reality since they estimate from hotter months. If you have questions regarding your bill, Slemco is encouraging people to call their billing department at 337-896-5200.