Duke Energy bills with massive increases panic Florida customers

Damage from Irma in a Duke Energy press photo.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Duke Energy customers in St. Petersburg were zapped with electric bills that are double, even triple their usual amount.

North Carolina-based Duke Energy suspended meter readings during the storm and estimated what people owe. That left customers feeling a bit singed.

The Central Oak Park neighborhood and its Facebook page were amped about the shocking electric bills.

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Linda Curry’s bill bolted from $177 to $445.

“You know, I started thinking like, ‘what did we do, did we leave and leave a window open and the A/C running,’ and kind of went into a panic,” said Curry.

Jennifer Kelly’s electric bill doubled, spiking to $600.

“It’s been a stressful week, but you know, the $600 bill on top of that wasn’t exactly what we expected,” explained Kelly.

Chuck Paquette’s bill is $951 dollars.

“I’m expecting a $400 bill, where did you get this number?” asked Paquette.

WFLA-TV contacted Duke. The company, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, said it suspended meter readings during the storm.

So, it averaged customers’ bills.

Paquette’s bill averages about $329 dollars, not $900.

What about customers making automatic monthly electronic payments?

“I will turn off my automatic payment until this is resolved,” said Curry.

Duke isn’t quite sure how it will handle those.

“I’m very upset with Duke right now,” stated Curry.

Then, there is the timing.

“We’ve had our own fair amount of stress here,” Currey pointed out.

“Everybody was prepping for the storm,” Paquette said. “You’re buying a lot of stuff you normally don’t buy, whether it be plywood, whether it be gas for a generator, the timing sucks.”

Late Friday, Duke told WFLA-TV that customers who received those estimated bills can ignore them. Its focus now is on restoring power.

Once power is restored, Duke will send out crews to start reading meters again, then send out bills that will hopefully more accurately reflect what people truly owe.

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