CLEVELAND, Okla. -- People across Green Country are seeing higher than normal electric bills and worrying how they will be able to pay them.
Indian Electric Cooperative said they have had to increase their rates because their distributor increased the cost to them. A 6-percent rate increase went into effect Jan. 1.
"We could not afford to absorb that being a not for profit like we are, so we had to pass that along to our membership," David Wilson, manager of office services for Indian Electric Co-op, said.
The provider has 19,000 customers across seven counties.
One of them is Noelle Waller. She moved to Terlton a few months ago. Every month her bill has risen.
In November, she owed $332. In December, her bill was $456. For January, she owes $840.
"I’m looking at this and saying 'Well am I going to have to get a second job so that we can pay the electric bill?' I’m a teacher," Waller said. "We don’t make that much. When I look at a bill that is more than half of what I bring home in a month, that is cutting it awfully close."
Since her bill has been climbing, Waller has tried to cut back on her electricity usage to keep the price down. She has even reduced the heat she gives her livestock. This winter, she said her goats have not had heat and her rabbits are running on the bare minimum.
"It’s cost me some litters of rabbits and things like that, but I can’t afford for it to keep doubling every single month and still function with electricity," Waller said.
Indian Electric said because this winter is colder this year than in years past, their kilowatt per hour sales have increased by 40-percent from November to January.
Wilson said if customers electricity usage was the same in January of 2017 and as it was in January of 2018, their bill would only be 6-percent higher.
Waller argues it has not been cold enough to justify a more than $800 bill.
She said if her bills do not start going down, it may come down to her selling off livestock to pay for it.
"It may be that I have to sell a cow that we might otherwise have been able to put in the freezer," Waller said. "It might be I have to sell my show rabbit stock that I would ordinarily have kept to improve my program."
Waller said something has got to give and she hopes Indian Electric takes into account the concern she and so many other customers have.
"We are having to look at alternative heat sources and to be honest alternative energy services," Waller said.
We reached out to other electric co-ops in Green County. At least one other said they plan to increase their rates by about 6-percent in the coming months.
Indian Electric said they are willing to work with people on paying their bills.
DHS offers assistance program to help pay utility bills as well.
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