INDIANAPOLIS — Some AES customers have told FOX59 their bills are double, sometimes triple, what they’re used to paying.
Shannon Latham is one of those people. She said she was shocked when she opened up her heating and power bill for January.
“I called my husband instantly and was like, ‘I cannot believe this but our light bill for just one month is $800,” Latham said.
This came after her bill for December was more than $500. She said they’re used to paying roughly $250 a month.
“It’s been a struggle trying to pay it, that’s for sure,” Latham said.
Another AES customer we spoke with, Leah Padget, said her bill has gone up by about $150 compared to the year before.
“Last Christmas it was only like $300 and we had all the same Christmas lights and everything,” Padget said. She said at the time there were even two more people living in her apartment.
They’re not the only ones with noticeable increases. A Facebook post by FOX59’s Angela Ganote has hundreds of comments from people experiencing their own problems.
“This time of year we really see an increase like this,” said Kelly Young, a spokesperson for AES Indiana.
Young said a combination of cold weather, high fuel prices and peoples’ usage going up is why their bills are going up.
“If you think about our December, last month, we hit some of the lowest and coldest temperatures we had,” said Young.
Young points out natural gas prices have skyrocketed, as well.
“In 2022, we saw the highest prices that we’ve seen for fuel than we’ve seen in over a decade,” Young said.
Young said those are “pass-through costs” and AES Indiana does not earn a profit on them.
“These prices continue to rise and fall, these costs are reviewed and approved by state and local regulators so we’re not making money off of this,” Young said. “We’re certainly in this all together. We’re customers, as well.”
We asked AES Indiana what it’s doing to help customers dealing with higher bills, Young pointed us toward AES winter assistance programs.
“We have energy efficiency programs that are available for customers, winter assistance funds,” she said. “At AES Indiana we have what’s called the Power of Change which is an emergency relief fund.”
Households who make 60% of the state median income or less can apply for those benefits.
Latham said she and her husband don’t qualify because they make too much money to get the assistance, leaving them without many options as their bills climb.
”You got to worry about putting food on the table, getting back and forth to work and trying to keep your lights on,” Latham said.
Young recommends people turn off lights, unplug appliances you aren’t using, make sure you don’t block air vents and make sure doors and windows are weather stripped to save money on your utility bill.
”Those energy vampires can really draw power when you don’t expect it,” Young said.
Latham and Padget both said they have made changes to their energy use.
”I even unplug our TVs throughout the day, the only thing I really leave plugged is our appliances,” Latham said.
”We’ve changed to energy-efficient light bulbs, turning off lights every time we leave, and it doesn’t seem like it’s doing much,” Padget said.
Young said you can reach out to AES for questions on its website, but there is no in-person place customers can go.