East Texans looking for answers after electric bills skyrocket

Constance Phillips
Constance Phillips
Savanna Cassell
Savanna Cassell

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Electric bills all over deep East Texas are skyrocketing and some folks say their bills not only doubled, but tripled this past billing period.

"I didn't get any notification until I opened up that bill and was like whoa! Wait a minute. What's going on?" Constance Phillips, a Douglass resident, said.

"I know my husband's reaction when he opened the bill. I don't even think I can say it on TV what his reaction was, but yeah, he was not happy," Savanna Cassell, a Tenaha resident, said.

Both women are customers with Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative, Inc. and say they were absolutely shocked when they opened up their electric bill and saw that the total fee due was nearly $500.

"You don't think about a $500 or $700 electric bill, you know? You don't think about it," Cassell said.

Cassell says she just moved into her new home and hasn't even installed the central air conditioning unit yet. She says her and her husband have just been using space heaters to keep their family warm, and can't believe how high their bill was this month.

"I tried to call the company. [I] never could get through. I tried three different times. I waited an hour and a half each time I called and I still never got through to anybody and then later on that day when I got onto Facebook I saw that everybody was having this problem," Cassell said.

More than 300 people took to East Texas News' Facebook page on Thursday to voice their concerns about their personal electric bills. DETEC Communications Specialist Brittney Johnson told the East Texas News that across their system members showed a 71 percent increase in residential kilowatt-hour use, which she says, was reflected in the January 1st billing.

"Additionally, the Cooperative's energy suppliers have had higher power costs than in recent years. This is due to additional plant capacity and purchases of new power plants that are currently undergoing construction," Johnson said via email. "This power cost is reflected in the Power Cost Adjustment (PCA) charges on the bill. The PCA is the difference between the actual cost of producing a kilowatt and the portion of your kilowatt rate that is dedicated to power cost."

But Phillips says she doesn't care. She's mad.

"When I called down there all I got was it's just an increase like everything else is increasing. Well, I'm sorry. My paycheck didn't increase no hundred dollars," Phillips said.

Despite complaints, Johnson said it's not uncommon for DETEC customers to receive higher power bills during this time of year.

"Energy use typically mirrors the outside temperatures. While your thermostat setting is the same, the colder temperatures outside require your heating system to run more often," Johnson said. "Deep East Texas experienced colder-than-normal weather during the last billing period (November 19th-December 18th), thus heating systems have been required to run more often to keep your home warm."

However,  while most of the complaints made to the East Texas News were from DETEC customers, it seems customers with several different companies say they are having similar problems.

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