Pinckneyville Woman's Electric Bill Skyrockets

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By Fanna Haile-Selassie
By Randy Livingston

PINCKNEYVILLE -- Our frigid winter is taking its toll in a lot of ways. For one Pinckneyville woman, the toll is $622. That's her power bill for last month, nearly two and half times normal. Turns out she had a new provider she didn't know about.

After getting her latest electric bill, Janet Ashby of Pinckneyville spent Thursday morning on the phone.

"I expected it to go up this month, maybe $100, but not $300, close to $400," she exclaims. "And I'd just like to know how they can get away with that."

Especially since the fireplace is her family's primary heat source, and they just bought a new furnace and heat pump. But Ashby's rate went from about 4.5 cents a kilowatt in December to a little more than 9 cents in January, and she couldn't figure out why.
 
Perry County, like most southern Illinois communities, aggregated its electric energy and went with Homefield Energy to do so. But Ashby liked Direct Energy's prices and went with them. It wasn't until Wednesday night when Ashby saw her bill had increased that she realized she didn't have Direct Energy any more.
 
Ashby explains her conversation with Ameren: "She goes, 'Well you got Nordic.' I said, 'I had Direct Energy, how did I get Nordic?' And she says, 'I don't know, I'm sorry but you need to find that out."
 
Nordic Energy CEO Jim Deering says Ashby signed up with the company last May over the phone.
 
"In the case of Miss Ashby, she did sign for kind of an introductory offer. She had a 30-day rate that I believe was in the mid 4s and then it goes to a variable rate," says Deering.
 
Extreme temperatures drove up the rates in January. So much so, a federal price cap was lifted.
 
"The increase in usage is causing increase in demand. Price really is a direct reflection of that demand," Deering explains.
 
But with Ashby's calls going unanswered for most of the day, she decided to not take any chances and switched to Ameren.
 
Ashby says she never recalls signing up with Nordic. She says since Perry County agreed to electric aggregation, numerous energy companies have called her about switching.
 
 
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