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People in Aurora say smart meters causing electric bills to nearly triple

Published: Feb. 10, 2021 at 7:40 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - People throughout several communities in the Ozarks are experiencing sticker shock.

Many tell us they are getting electric bills for hundreds of dollars more that what they normally pay and aren’t getting any answers from their service provider, Liberty Utilities.

“It was a hard blow to deal with. We went into panic mode,” says Cory Grider.

He says he didn’t expect his electricity bill to be more than double what it usually is.

“You’ve got to decide do you want to heat your house or do you want to go into debt,” he said.

Many customers say the problems started when these smart meters were installed.

“It was a normal bill the first month that they changed it. Then all of the sudden we saw a triple amount of kilowatt hours on our bill,” said Grider.

He called Liberty Utilities to trace the source of the problem.

“They said it’s probably your HVAC system or something like that. Call an electrician. We called an HVAC and an electrician. They came out and looked at it and said, nope everything’s looking right. Nothing is pulling extra power. You might want to call your electric company again,” he explained.

Grider says thousands of other households are experiencing the same problem. In fact, an online petition calling for Liberty Utilities to look into their concerns.

“They say it’s not our fault. You call an electrician. It’s on you. Everybody’s having the same problem but they just act like they don’t care,” he explained.

The company issued this statement in response to our request for answers regarding the billing concerns:

We know our customers depend on us to provide safe and reliable service and rightly expect us to provide accurate billing. We take customer feedback seriously, including feedback on social media and through online forums such as petitions. We are listening, and we are constantly improving our systems and processes to ensure that we meet customer expectations. If customers have questions or concerns regarding their new meter and billing, we urge them to call us at 1-800-206-2300. Our customer service teams can analyze the account, review and compare past usage history, and have the customer’s meter checked for accuracy. If there is an error, we will correct it.

We also recognize that customers may be experiencing higher bills this billing cycle. It is not uncommon for energy usage to increase during periods of harsh cold or hot temperatures. A home’s HVAC unit is often the largest energy user and must run more often during these periods to heat or cool homes. Energy usage will also increase during times when customers are spending more time at home, such as during the holiday season, or if regular household patterns have changed, such as a move to work from home or schooling from home.

Each year, we conduct tests on meters to check for accuracy to help ensure accurate billing and to meet regulatory requirements. The smart meters we are installing are rigorously tested by the manufacturer prior to installation. In addition, we have trained field technicians performing the meter exchanges.

For customers who may be struggling with paying their bill, we have payment options and resources to assist customers. We can also connect customers with local organizations and programs that assist with utility bills and weatherizing homes to save energy. We ask that customers call us at 1-800-206-2300. Our customer service representatives are here to help. Customers can also visit our website at www.libertyutilities.com to find information regarding financial assistance.

Customers like Grider say they feel like they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place with no solution in sight.

“We’re in a pandemic. Money is hard as it is. Then they’re taking advantage of us, throwing $600, $700 electric bills down our throats and we either pay it or we freeze,” he said.

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