Some Mo. residents ask: Why is my electric bill so high? and question utility companies’ answers

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CAMERON, Mo. — When some Missouri customers opened their heating bills for this past month, many were startled at the amount they were billed. FOX 4 received several messages from residents north of the Kansas City-metro area, asking us to find out why their more recent bills were so high.

One message from Cameron, Mo., said:

“We are having an outrageous amount of people on Facebook complaining about utility bills in Cameron Missouri.** I myself live in a one bedroom low-income apartment & today received my bill & it was $700.00!!! That’s just electricity. No water, no trash, no sewer. This is not right. I live in low-income for a reason I barely bring that home a month in pay!! They are trying to say I used 7226 kW consumption in one month. There’s no way!!! Reaching out for help this community is in outrage & most can’t afford this!! City Hall is just making excuses. Sad thing is if we don’t pay we have no electricity. I have children this must be addressed. Thank you for your time with my rant!!!”

**See photo gallery above for the electric bill Facebook comments shared in the new Cameron Swap & Shop Facebook group.

Another utility customer and FOX 4 viewer from Kidder, Mo., sent us a similar message:

“I am from Kidder Mo, and a lot of people here are upset about the jump in electrical prices. Our electricity comes from a company called Farmers Electric. The price has jumped a lot. We have a small house and our bill was $426. My sister was $618 and my Grandparents was $712. We all have Farmers Electric.”

Response from City of Cameron utilities:
We have been made aware of the resent discussions on social media regarding this. We have also had a few phone calls here at City Hall.

Of the one that have contacted us, while their bills are high, they are similar to previous years’ winter bills. Typically we see a winter peak around late-January early-February but this year we had a colder than normal December. This billing cycle had an average temperature of 27.45 degrees as opposed to the average of 35.89 for this cycle. We also had 2 more days below freezing than average, 8 less days above 40 degrees, and 2 days with negative temperatures.

The last rate increase was in April 2016. We increased the rate approximately 1.4%. This increase was due to the increased wholesale cost from our electric provider and has been in effect since May. Rates have not been adjusted since then.

Response from Farmers’ Electric Cooperative:
We have not had a residential rate increase since early 2015 and any increases in monthly bills are weather related, which is not uncommon this time of year. Energy use changes month to month and, with recent cold temperatures, some bills have increased due to those families using additional electricity to combat the cold. Approximately 50% of a monthly bill is space heating and/or cooling, depending on the season. Our Cooperative offers multiple tools for our Members’ convenience to avoid a surprise bill including access to daily electric use information, budget billing and prepay programs and a home energy audit to help identify the steps to take to improve energy efficiency in their homes. For more information about any of these programs, please contact the Cooperative at 800-279-0496.

KCPL charges $.13328 per kWh, so a usage of 7000 kws would amount to a base charge of more than $900 for KCPL customers.

However, one FOX 4 viewer we were communicating with about her $700 bill said that she returned to the City of Cameron and asked that her kWh usage be reviewed. She ended up leaving the office with a much lower bill.

“I did go back to city hall today to demand better reasoning!! They said the computer is leaving out numbers on bills!! Before I left there I had a new bill for 193.15 instead of 700.00!!!,” said Crystal M.

The director of utilities explained that this particular customer was new, and the meter read from “0” when it actually should have been counted from existing usage on the meter.

FOX 4 checked with Chief Meteorologist Mike Thompson about the ‘colder than normal December’ that the City of Cameron cited in its response.

Thompson provided the following data about December temperatures from the National Weather Service. He drew attention to column 5, which shows how much below or above average the temperature was for each day in December. (Column one gives the day of the month.) While January was warmer than average, December was quite colder. Scroll down to take our poll. Did your last heating bill for December seem reasonable or too high?

Courtesy: National Weather Service

Courtesy: National Weather Service