High electric bills soar over $1000 for some Lowcountry households

Published: Feb. 1, 2018 at 3:45 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 1, 2018 at 9:06 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Power bills are coming in and residents aren't happy with how much they owe.

February's bill include January's below freezing weeks and winter snow days which is causing some people's bills to reach $782, $864, $932, and for some families over $1,000.

Nearly a thousand people commented on Live 5's post saying their bills are tripling what they typically would be.

"I thought it was fake," Lauren James said. "But then as I looked, I thought somebody actually sent me a scam bill."

SCE&G said the prices are so high because of the energy used during the below-freezing days.

SCE&G spokesman Paul Fischer said Lowcountry homes often use a heat pump which isn't cut out for colder temperatures.

"A heat pump is an efficient way to warm the home in normal temperatures around 50 degrees or so," Fischer said. "When you get in the teens and you're in the 20s and below freezing for as many days as we have been, those units are going to run nonstop."

With your heating systems running more than usual, it's putting your system into overdrive, he said.

"They're going to be consuming twice as much or maybe three times as much energy in what's called auxiliary heat mode," Fischer said. "Oftentimes, customers can see that on their thermostat with the red or green light or it may say auxiliary heat or a small icon maybe like a flame."

Extra energy being used is what customers are seeing reflected on their bills.

"I don't get how it was a thousand dollars considering it's a two-bedroom house," James said. "We're coming up with ways to get it paid, but I've never seen a thousand-dollar bill come to a residence. I've seen it commercial but not a residence."

For those who need assistance on their bill, there are options.

Here are links to where you can find help:

Community assistance programs with SCE&G

Community action agencies with SCE&G

Berkeley County assistance programs

Berkeley County Electric Cooperative assistance programs

"We have customer assistance programs that are based on need. We work with local community action agencies that are really here to help customers get through this unprecedented weather event," Fischer said.

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