SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - We’re in the peak of the summer time heat, and with it, air conditioners are on full blast, which runs up power bills.
Over the last few days WLOX heard from many people saying those power bills were a lot higher than expected.
“I cried. I’m not even joking, I cried,” said Pass Christian resident Sydnie Billman.
A $353 power bill brought Billman to tears. She lives in a 1,000 sq. ft. home, and this month’s bill was almost $200 more than the same billing cycle last year.
In Long Beach, the latest power bill was a shock for Halie Shearer.
“There’s only three of us living here in a 1,300 sq. ft. home, and there’s no way the bill should be $475,” said Shearer.
Mississippi Power is in the process of installing new digital meters on homes. Approximately 72,000 meters have been installed. According to Mississippi Power, some of the benefits of the advanced meters include: real-time energy monitoring, remote connect and disconnect and reading meters remotely. Those benefits can reduce the company’s operating costs.
But the timing of the meter installations is leaving customers wondering if there’s a connection between their higher bills and the new meters.
“Why all of a sudden are we having so many issues on this bill all across the Gulf Coast when they’ve just changed our meters?” asked Billman.
Mississippi Power representative Jeff Shepard said the higher bills aren’t related to the meters but the weather.
“It is the summer months so we see prices for energy are higher and usage is also higher, as well,” Shepard said. “We had a run of days above 90 degrees, even into the 100′s in the month of July, and those bills are starting to be sent out.”
Shepard is right about rising temperatures. Early July saw a period of five straight days of temperatures topping 98 degrees, the longest such stretch in the last four years during the same billing cycle.
According to Shepard, the digital meters can actually be used by customers to see how much power they’re using and cut back if necessary.
“You can go out and monitor real time usage of your energy,” Shepard said. “You can actually see if I run my air conditioner, my dishwasher, my washing machine and dryer at this time, I’m using this much electricity. But if I do it at a certain time of the day, I’m using this much. So, you can make better decisions about your energy usage.”
For now, Sydnie Billman is doing what she can to keep her energy usage down while working on her budget.
“I am trying to figure out how I’m going to split up a $353 bill on a very low income,” Billman said.
Mississippi Power provided a list of tips to help lower power bills, including keeping your thermostat set at 78 degrees or higher during the summer. The list can be found here.