Vernon and Karen Bigalk live modestly in their Largo mobile home. At just over 1,000 square feet, their electric bills are typically low, especially when they're not up north for the summers and leave the thermostat at 86 degrees.
"The electric service in [March] was $66," Karen Bigalk said. "[In June] it was $63."
So you can imagine their shock when a bill arrived in October for a whopping $1,209.33.
"We thought something happened that's not normal," Bigalk said.
But what caused the usage to shoot up to 3,286 kilowatts during a time when the couple wasn't even home?
The next month's bill, for a time when they were actually home and using power, dropped to $38 - far below normal. The December bill was a usual amount: $119.
Progress Energy's customer service, the couple said, offered no explanation.
"We told them we wanted something checked on this, and we wanted to come down and talk to somebody, and they said there is no office for the public to come to, which really doesn't make sense," Bigalk said. "If you are a public utility, there should be a way to go talk to somebody that's in charge."
So the Bigalks called 8-On-Your-Side. We wanted to know why Progress' explanation didn't make sense.
Company spokeswoman Susan Grant said Progress sent someone to manually read the meter after the couple complained, and the reading appeared to be correct.
Grant says nothing indicates a problem on Progress Energy's end, and the situation needs further investigation.
So what caused the high bill? Grant said explanations include a problem with the air conditioning unit or someone stealing electricity.
After 8-On-Your-Side's calls, the company agreed to run a diagnostic test on the couple's electric meter next week.
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