FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Many residents in our area are opening their most recent electric bill and are shocked at just how much they owe. Some have even gone to social media with their frustrations.
"I think we were paying about $150 a month, then it jumped to $320," said one local woman, Anna Wetterlund.
Soon, the electric bill became too much for the Wetterlund family to afford. So their power was shut off by OG&E two weeks ago.
"Me and my husband and three kids are staying in an apartment with a friend of mine just to stay cool until we can get the electric bill paid off to get it back on."
And they aren't the only ones. There are numerous complaints from all over the area. Hundreds of residents have voiced their disbelief on social media. Some have claimed OG&E is charging "whatever they want" because they "have no competition".
OG&E spokeswoman, Kathleen O'Shea disagrees.
"Typically, in July and August, we will see bills go up because people are using more electricity," she said.
But that doesn't explain the drastic increases, to which she responded, "On June 1st, we implemented new rates in Arkansas. That was the first time we had a rate increase in over six years in Arkansas."
That increase, she says, for the average customer using a thousand kilowatt hours a month was approximately $5.89.
"Actually, those are the lowest rates, our rates are the lowest rates in Arkansas," she said.
She says customers should try things to counteract energy use -- like not running laundry in the afternoon.
"If a customer is concerned they're not going to be able to pay their bill, they should call our customer service office and see if they can work out some kind of installment plan," she explained.
She provided a number, too. The number is 800-272-9741.