RIVER VALLEY (KFSM) — Many OG&E customers are frustrated about a recent rate increase, making it difficult to afford their bills. A Fort Smith woman started a petition urging the electric company to do something about it.
“I don't think your electricity bill should be as much as your car payment,” Kara Simmons said.
Simmons started the petition Tuesday morning (Aug. 1). It already has more than 2,000 supporters and dozens of comments.
“It’s not really fair to those people that are already struggling to add another $120 on top of the electric bill that they can’t already pay,” Simmons said.
Simmons says her OG&E bill nearly doubled. It went from a maximum of $150 to $276. The Arkansas Public Service Commission approved OG&E’s rate hike request in May. It went into effect on June 1.
John Bethel, a spokesperson for the APSC said they held two hearings for public comment advertised in both the newspaper and on the APSC website, but no one showed up. Simmons said she didn’t know about the meeting.
“I talk to people all the time,” she said. “I work for a local telecommunications company and I was talking to a lady who was going to cut her cable off because her electricity had been shut off.”
Other people voiced their concerns on Simmons’ petition.
Whitney Lee of Fort Smith said, “My electric bill has tripled, and it’s not affordable! I don’t know how anyone could afford to pay these rates.”
Sam Peterman said, “Monopolization of a necessity is a problem.”
While Simmons isn’t struggling to make ends meet, she sympathizes with families who are.
“I hope that it raises awareness to the electric company and maybe they can bring it down to a more reasonable rate,” she said.
The Arkansas Public Service Commission said at this time there is no proceeding scheduled to change OG&E’s rates. They say you can mail, email or post your concerns here, which could change that.
OG&E did not return our calls before Wednesday’s newscast.