Cold weather causes rise in heating bills
MID-MICHIGAN (WNEM) - Now that the cold weather is making this a true Michigan winter, some say they’ve never seen their heating bills so high.
One man said his Consumers Energy bill is twice as much as it was last winter.
“Just to see that bill that high this month, it was pretty outrageous I think,” said Kyle Chvatal.
Chvatal said he received a $432 bill from Consumers Energy. He said he would find a way to pay it.
“I try to do extra work whenever I can, maybe some side jobs that I don’t normally do,” he said.
While Chvatal said he is able to keep the heat going and the lights on, he is worried about people who can’t pay their bills.
TV5 spoke with Consumers Energy spokesperson Tracy Wimmer to find out what help is available. Wimmer said the company is providing $25 million in assistance to its electricity customers.
“Fifteen million of that is going to go a credit to every single electric customer. And there’s absolutely nothing you have to do to receive it. It’s just going to automatically be implemented on the next billing cycle. And that’s going to be paid out over a period of the next 12 months to make some progress there,” Wimmer said.
The other $10 million is set aside for low-income and payment-challenged families.
“That’s something that our team is going to be going in and looking at different accounts, working directly with customers to help mitigate those costs, and in some cases, eliminate them altogether,” Wimmer said.
There is a lot of natural gas being used this time of year as well. Wimmer said Consumers Energy gave $7.25 million to eight non-profits across the state in December, and she urges people who are struggling to call 211 to get connected to those organizations.
“They can help not only with heating costs, but provisions for all different kinds of other basic needs that people may be struggling to meet right now,” Wimmer said.
Chvatal said he would like to see his next bill moving in a different direction.
“Hopefully it changes,” he said.
Even when the weather warms up, some Consumers Energy customers may still notice an increase in their bill. Consumers Energy was approved for an over two percent rate increase earlier in January.
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