Consumers Energy customers all across Mid-Michigan are suffering from sticker shock after the latest round of energy bills arrived in their mailboxes.
Over the last several days more than 100 Mid-Michigan residents reached out to TV5 about their higher-than-normal energy bills. Some of the bills have doubled or tripled from the previous month.
"It's the same amount of people in the home. The same you know. Our heat is set the same. Lights don't get left on. It shouldn't have gone up that much. Maybe a little bit more usage. It has been a little bit colder, but not $70 worth," said Danyelle Hammond, resident.
Hammond is among several customers upset with Consumers Energy. They are demanding answers as to why their bill is so high.
On Monday, Consumers Energy Spokesperson Debra Dodd blamed the cold weather in part for the spike. Dodd said natural gas use it up 26 percent over the past month.
Hammond thinks there is a lot more to the story.
"My parents, they heat with wood and their bill almost doubled. That needs to be explained. Consumers is trying to say it's because of the weather change, it's been so cold. And unfortunately, you know we're not seeing that as explainable with the people that heat with wood," Hammond said.
Several customers who reached out to TV5 said they are not buying what Consumers Energy is selling.
TV5 reached out to Consumers for another interview, but they declined and referred to their answers from Monday.
They said customers who have questions about their bill should call Consumers Energy and if people are having trouble paying their bill they should call 211.
That is not good enough for Hammond.
"I think that we need to ask them something about these new smart meters that they have. You know, since the change in the meters it seems like everybody's bills have gone up. 211 can't help everybody," Hammond said.
Rosemary Middleton contacted Consumers Energy about her bill and she claims the person on the other end of the line was more concerned about playing the blame game instead of helping her with her soaring bill.
"'So you're telling me that it's something that I am doing that is causing my electric bill to spike the way it is? So that means that the other several hundred customers that have called in and complained, it's our fault? You have nothing to do with that correct?' And she said 'yes.' And I said, 'well thank you for your time,'" Middleton said.
Middleton said she has lived here for years and her bill for almost $300 was a first for her.
"We've always used wood heat and like I said, I have never - and my stock heater was going - I've never had an electric bill of $200. Let alone this," she said.
Middleton wants to see Consumers Energy investigated.
"I think something needs to happen because of all the complaints. I don't think they should be able to sweep this under the rug. I think we need answers," Middleton said.
Kerry Haller, of Beaverton, said his bill last month was $126 and this month it was $256 to $257 and he doesn't understand why.
"We don't consume that much electricity. We burn wood. We don't have natural gas or anything like that. So why the increase," Haller said.
Haller has a generator and he said it would actually be cheaper to live off of that and just cut his power because as a farm owner he can write it off as a farm expense.
"For an hour of running that generator it would be less than running that power," Haller said.
On Wednesday Consumers Energy will be testing the smart meter of a customer who has amassed a $1,700 bill over the last two months.
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