ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — The hot weather has led to record-breaking power usage this week across Tampa Bay, and some viewers tell 8 On Your Side, they’re paying more for power than ever.

To try to save cash, one Tampa Bay area man got solar panels, but he says his bill has gone up, not down. So, what gives? He called 8 On Your Side Investigator Mahsa Saeidi for help.

The sun in St. Pete has been intense. You can see its reflection on the solar panels of Jesse Kates’ home as the heat rises. And the temps aren’t the only thing going up. Kates said his power bill has increased as well. His Duke Energy power bill is currently over $400. Ten months ago, in October, before he got the panels, it was $100 less.

“Get something done about this bill… it’s killing me,” said Mr. Kates.

“That’s on and this is on,” Kates said, talking about the system.

It looked on, but 8 On Your Side learned the system was actually off.

We contacted Better Earth, the company that installed the panels, and were told that Kates didn’t have the general liability insurance that’s required for the utility to approve solar.

Kates initially told us he thought the insurance was voluntary.

“They never gave me any explanation on that part,” he said.

A company rep tells 8 On Your Side that they’ll set up Kates’ insurance—and even pay for it!

As soon as the insurance issue is fixed, we’re told Kates will see his bill cut in half.

“I’m hoping to see definitely this power bill go down,” he said. “I’m thinking if anybody else need any help, it’s where they need to come to 8 On Your Side.”

If you have a story or tip, email Mahsa at