Westar Energy and Eyewitness News have been inundated with phone calls after a Wednesday night report concerning higher electric bills.
"I'm just, kind of, in the fog on this. But, basically, I'd just like to know, how this happened. I don't have no choice but to pay it," said Ron Letourneau, who wonders what happened to his electric bill this month. He's just another Westar customer who has to pay more than expected.
Eyewitness News first told you about the problem last night. Today Westar says it's heard from many customers. Some of those customers told us their bill doubled, or more, in the last month. So what's the problem?
Letourneau saw the story on Eyewitness News and realized he wasn't alone. At over $200 his bill had more than doubled from the highest electric bill he'd ever had in his southside apartment.
"Sticker shock, I guess," he said. "I mean it… it shocked me."
So he called the station.
"I wanted to get my name in the investigation," Letourneau explained. "And I called Westar this morning and told them that if they were having an investigation I wanted my bill on the deal, too."
"We saw an increased volume into our call center with people that think that their bills might be a little bit too high," said Shane Batchelder, Westar spokesperson. He says the company has looked into several of the complaints it's received in the last day or so.
"We've actually gone out and done some additional meter reads," he said. "If anything, what we've found is that if meters were working improperly it was on the side where customers were being a little bit undercharged."
But Westar found no system wide errors. It says one possible problem could be estimated meter reads.
"If we were forced to do an estimated read for a couple of months and the estimate was off, then when we do the actual physical read, the adjustment would be made to get that corrected," said Batchelder.
To protect yourself, the company suggests learning to read your own meter and comparing that to your bill.
Some meters are digital, but most have four or five dials with moving hands. Some of the hands on the dials move clockwise. Others move counterclockwise.
You'll want a pen and paper to jot down the numbers the hands are pointing to. When a hand is between numbers, use the smaller number.
Next, grab last month's bill. Check out what the previous number is, then subtract it from the current number you see on the meter. That will tell you how many kilowatt hours you've used in the last month.
If it doesn't match up with what the bill says you used, you can ask Westar to come out and read the meter again.
Westar does want to remind customers that if they ask for a re-read on their meter and the meter is working fine then the customer will have to pay at least $10 for the trip.
Customers could be charged $30 if the company takes the meter in for service, but finds nothing wrong with it.
The energy company tells Eyewitness News that customers did see an increase in base rates and surcharge fees.