High electric bills
With some bills that have run as high as $700, many Cookson Hills Electric customers are questioning why their bills have doubled or even tripled from the past two months.
One resident living around Lake Tenkiller area said her electric bill has doubled while another said they were not home much in January but their electric bill went from an average of $190 to $400.
Julie Orme, CFO for Cookson Hills Electric in Sallisaw, said her office has received several calls from customers regarding the hike to their electric bill.
“The only changes we have made to everyone's bill is we have added a $10 customer charge,” she said.
“But I invite anyone to come in and let us evaluate their bill individually to help determine the source of the spikes in their usage.”
Orme said Cookson Hills Electric Co-op purchases their electric based on the demand and the cycle beginning Dec. 20 to Jan. 19 reached record demand.
“We have to purchase electric as we use it because you can't store electric,” she said.
Orme said Cookson Hills has around 17,800 customers and when more electricity is needed to heat residential homes, the cost becomes higher. “The customers buy their electricity from us but we have to purchase it also,” she said.
Orme said the recent cold weather may have had customers not only using more heat but additional sources of heat they may not have used before.
“Many people use space heaters and that uses a lot of electric. Those who use geo thermal heat pumps are also using more electric. Even people who burn with wood might have a fan to blow the heat and that runs into more electric,” she said.
Orme defined Heating Degree Day (HDD) which is the number of degrees that a day's average temperature is below 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius), the temperature below which buildings need to be heated.
She explained by saying it takes a certain temperature to heat up a room then when the outside temperature drops, it will take more electric to get that room to the temperature it was before, so it would take more electricity to keep the room warm especially during extreme cold weather conditions leading to more usage of electricity.
“This is not just going on in Sequoyah County. It's nation-wide,” she said. “You can't turn on the news without people upset about their high utility bills from the cold temperatures we've been having. But we want people to come by or call and we can go over their bill with them.”
Orme said she can be reached at 1-800-328-2368.