Claremore Residents Shocked Over High Utility Bills

Tuesday, August 4th 2015, 7:24 pm
By: News On 6

Some Claremore families are getting high electric bills and think their new smart meters may be to blame, but the city said it has to do with how much electricity homeowners use.

One homeowner said, even though she's doing everything she can to save energy, her bill almost doubled.

Shelly Madison-Taylor's utility bill from the City of Claremore utility caused some sticker shock.

She and her family recently moved into a home in one of the city's historic neighborhoods and said it has new insulation, triple-pane windows and entire floors sealed off.

But even with those energy-saving measures, she said she still got hit with a high bill.

"If I had any clue I wouldn't argue it. To me it has something to do with the meter, it has something to do with faulty readings, it has to do with our prices that we're paying," she said.

Madison-Taylor thinks the new smart meter, which was there when they moved in, may be partly to blame for her sky-high utility bill.

“We conserve enough that, again, even if it is accurate, if I want to pretend for a moment that it is, it's not accurate enough to be twice what last month’s was," she said.

The City of Claremore runs its own electric utility and buys power from GRDA.

The city has installed smart meters in 80 percent of the homes they serve and electronically monitors and records customers’ usage through the new technology.

Claremore Deputy Public Works Director, Larry Hughes, said any customer who feels there's an issue can call and get their meter checked.

"Our meters are testing at 100 percentile and we're required to be within plus or minus two percent of the 100 percentile. They have to be that accurate, and they have been," he said.

Hughes said 65 percent of the utility bill pays GRDA for the power it provides, and the rest goes to city services.

"They're complaining about high bills right now, it's because their consumptions are up. We've been going through, looking at everybody's meters, their readings, everything has been accurate to this point," Hughes said.

Madison-Taylor's story is getting attention and support from other customers on social media.

"We're trying to bring people into Claremore and show what a good environment it is, and show what a good community it is, and you're not going to get people to live here if they can't afford a utility bill that's more than their mortgage," she said.

The city is about to launch a customer portal, where homeowners can login and see their consumption in 15-minute intervals.