Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Heat and Drought Make Painfully Pricey Bills

Hot weather and dry conditions are a bad combination for utility bills in Mobile, but people will pay almost anything to beat the heat.

MOBILE, Alabama - Summer in Mobile comes with lots of welcome and enjoyable experiences, but getting slapped with higher utility bills is not one of them. Some customers claim their power and water bills have almost doubled in just the last month.

"I didn't get any new appliances, I've been trying to turn my lights off, and running the air the same as I did last month, and it went up about thirty bucks," said Alabama Power customer Justin Lynch. Lynch showed News 5 his utility bill; Previous Month: $86.63. Current Service: $114.13.

"You either turn the air condition on, or you sweat all day, laughed customer Sylvia Harris. "There's nothing you can do about it so you have to live with it."

A representative with Alabama Power claims they don't keep records of regional billing trends, but says no matter what the thermostat reads, their prices do not change. Instead, they claim their rates are directly based on amount of usage. That means customers are simply using more resources to beat the heat.

"Summer typically is a high usage time, particularly for people who live in this area of the country," said Beth Thomas with Alabama Power.

A lot of people who live in Mobile and are used to paying more for their power bill during the summer months, but what they're not used to is paying more for water during an extreme drought.

Barbara Shaw with Mobile Area Water and Sewer System (MAWSS) says the company didn't have June's results yet, but admits water use was up in May. "We have seen a slight increase beginning in May, which is when we started having the hot, dry weather," said Shaw during a phone interview. "We believe most of it is due to outdoor watering."

Just like Alabama Power, MAWSS would not release specific numbers, but representative Barbara Shaw claims MAWSS' rates are also based strictly on amount of consumption.

"I'm just gonna pay it and be through with it," said Mobile resident Darryl Moore.

With no end to the drought in sight, it looks like people will keep paying those high prices to keep cool and saturated.

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