SANFORD (WJRT) (1/30/2018) - Hundreds of people have complained on social media that their utility bills have skyrocketed, but probably not many have seen a spike like Jeremy Iafrate.
The Sanford resident believes something besides the seasonal increase in utility usage may be causing his utility bills to skyrocket this winter. He blames his new electric smart meter for his most recent monthly bill topping $1,000.
Iafrate said his electrical usage skyrocketed for his 1,000-square-foot house in December. His bill then was around $740.
"It was almost triple my normal bill in December," Iafrate said.
That was a bargain compared to his January bill, which reached $1,000.
His electricity use quadrupled this January compared to last January, so he called Consumers Energy for assistance. Company representatives wanted to know if he had made any major changes to his home, where he lives with his fiance' and his child.
"They asked me if I was growing pot," Iafrate said. "They are telling me there is something wrong inside my house."
He's not. Iafrate pointed out Consumers installed a smart meter at his home early in the summer.
"I think that is probably the big reason for this big spike, is the smart meter," he said. "I don't know if it was tested in the cold."
Consumers spokeswoman Debra Dodd agreed that Iafrate's bill is unusual and the utility company is looking into what caused the dramatic spike.
Dozens of others have complained on social media about soaring electricity usage. So is it possible some smart meters are not working well in the cold?
"We do test the meters as they are installed and make sure they are functioning properly, so I guess I would say if someone is very concerned about their meter they can call us and we can work with them," Dodd said.
Iafrate doesn't have to pay his bill until Consumers investigates. The family started using energy-efficient light bulbs this year.
"We are trying to go the energy efficient way, but apparently it's not working," Iafrate said.