Dozens of Pacific Power customers in Pendleton are charged up over their electric bills doubling and even tripling in cost from November to December.
The bills also show their power use shooting up, but the locals asserted they did not tap into any more juice than usual.
Seth Peterson, 42, is among the many with the higher bills. He lives in an upstairs apartment on the 200 block of Southwest Third Street. He said he usually pays about $60-$70 a month for electricity, but his latest bill is for $122.
“My bill was double what is was last year,” hew said. “It’s just crazy.”
Last December he used 654 kilowatts, according to the bill from Pacific Power, but this past December the bill shows that rocketed to 1,102 kilowatts. The bill also shows both periods had the same daily average temperature of 37. Even with his 19-year-old son staying part of the month, he said, there is no way he was using that much electricity.
“It’s not that we’re getting billed higher for what we’re using, we’re getting billed for what where not using,” Peterson said.
He expressed his frustration with the matter on Facebook, explaining he turned off everything except his refrigerator and water heater, yet “as I’m walking by my power meter I look and it’s spinning like a damn top.”
Peterson’s post energized numerous locals to report they were facing the same situation.
Braxton Warner posted images of his bill showing he used 1,863 kilowatts in December 2017 and 3,187 kilowatts this past December, and again both months had the same daily average temperature. Amanda Lofting said she works 12-hour shifts and is careful about her power usage, yet her bill went from $122.50 in November to $287 in December.
“I was floored,” she said. “Now I’m $187 behind because my bill just randomly shot up.”
Christian Bloom and her husband Steven Bloom said their jaws dropped when they saw their $647 electric bill showing use go from 1,894 kilowatts on the November billing to 4,041 kilowatts for the December bill. They said since 2017 they installed a new heater, a new roof and changed from incandescent light bulbs to more energy-efficient LEDs.
“And it didn’t make a difference in the bill,” he said.
Christian Bloom also posted their power problem on Facebook and found plenty of folks dealing with the dilemma.
Tanner Doherty, a 21-year-old forklift operator, said his power bill went from more than $300 in November to $690 last month, making things tight for him, his girlfriend and their daughter.
“It’s a lot, and were real conscientious about what we leave on,” he said. “I don’t make enough money to pay a high power bill to begin with, so we’re always conscientious about how much energy we’re using.”
Pacific Power spokesperson Drew Hanson said out of the company’s 740,000 customers in the Northwest, “high bill anomalies” happen. Meters can malfunction and give “crazy high” levels for energy use, he said, and now and then the company sends out the wrong bill. But the company’s call center has not noticed any spike in complaints for the Pendleton area, he said, so it is difficult to pin down what might be going on.
Hanson also said customers might just owe what they owe. He encouraged Pacific Power customers with problems to call customer service or visit the company’s website. He said Pacific Power wants to work with its customers to take care of problems right away.
The Pendleton residents said they have called and gotten no traction. Peterson on Friday said he spoke with a customer service representative who said Pacific Power would send someone to review his situation.
“That was two days ago,” he said, and Saturday will be three.
Still, Peterson said he is urging locals to call the power company. He said maybe a big enough surge will get some attention.