NEW JERSEY - Electric bills always tend to rise in the summer months, but some New Jersey residents say their bills increased drastically, with no explanation.
"It was double," said Mary Cohn of her most recent PSE&G bill. "They tell you how much more, it was 100% more."
Her bill claimed she used double the electricity she did in July of last year.
"!00% more" showed up on many people's bills in Mountainside, where Cohn lives, and also in nearby Westfield. The sticker shock generated a lot of questions, and complaints on the local Westfield Facebook page.
"PSE&G was the highest electric bill we've ever had, living in Westfield for over 22 years!" one woman wrote.
94-year-old Constantine Zedas lives alone in a small house in Cranford and says he normally pays $60 or $70 a month. His July bill?
"I got a bill of $700!" he said, "I don't want to pay for the whole block, I want to pay for myself."
That's around a 900% jump for the month.
Mary Jane, of Westfield, was charged $547 dollars, way up from her normal summertime bill.
"It's crazy, their prices are double what they've been," she said.
We asked PSE&G what was behind the sky-high bills, and it turns out there are a number of factors.
For one, more people are staying at home than ever before thanks to COVID-19. PSE&G spokesperson Lauren Ugorji said the utility has seen about an 8% increase in residential electric use, attributable to the pandemic.
In addition, rates increased.
"We had a slight increase in 2020, which for an average residential customer equates to about $7 per month," Ugorji wrote.
On top of that, the utility says meter readings were limited for several months due to COVID concerns, and estimated bills may have underestimated power use during that time. Current bills based on actual readings may account for those earlier underestimates.
Lastly, July 2020 was the hottest month in New Jersey since 1895, likely leading many to crank their air conditioning on high, driving up their bills.
Customers are encouraged to contact PSE&G with specific inquiries about their accounts.