Price gouging or extreme weather causing high bills?

By Laura Ann Sills - email

Cusseta, GA (WTVM) - High power bills are causing people in Cusseta, GA to question the reliability of their power bills.

Could this be a case of price gouging or just the price you pay for an extremely cold winter?

Latrese Brown, a Cusseta resident, gathered a group of people who believe Sumter EMC is ripping them off. "Not only mine but my entire community light bills are outrageous high, they're more than our mortgages, more than our rent, more than our car note," complains Brown.

Some residents showed WTVM bills for $330, $577, and over.

Brown has started a petition on Sumter EMC and has over 200 signatures so far.  She says people on the list live in all kinds of situations, "houses, double-wides, single-wides."

The citizens of Cusseta went to their county commissioners Tuesday night and asked them to consider bringing in another company.

"You should be able to choose who you're with, we choose our gas company, we should be able to choose who provides our lights to us because we want to choose our customer service."

Greg Crowder, vice president of marketing and administration at Sumter EMC says it's not Sumter Electric calling the shots. He argues they have not increased rates and that the electric service act decided territories for electric companies.

"It was done to keep from duplicating efforts, two utilities running down the same road to serve the same customer then that's inefficient," says Crowder.

Crowder says the company is working with people on a daily basis to work out payment options for these extreme bills.  He showed WTVM his personal bill and how usage almost doubled those days in January when Georgia residents dealt with record breaking lows.

He says a call to customer service or to him directly is the first step for residents.

And, the cause for the high bills is nothing more than the heaters reaction to the extreme temperatures, "the heating load is what caused the high bills, we've seen it before."

If you are in need of help click here to access Sumter EMC's webpage or email

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