Problem solved: Woman’s energy bill quadrupled after Xcel installed new meter

DENVER -- People around the Denver metro area are talking about new meters being installed by Xcel Energy in homes and saying they seem to be anything but smart.

However, Xcel says these new meters are not "smart meters," even though many customers believe they are. The company has asked regulators for permission to start installing those types of meters starting next year.

One customer, Patsy Smith, lives in a 700-square-foot home and said she is conscientious about her energy use by unplugging things when they are not in use.

But with the new meter, her bill jumped from an average of $50 a month to $180. She has called Xcel several times, but it said there is nothing that can be done about her bill.

After sharing Smith's story, the FOX31 Problem Solvers heard from many other Xcel customers who saw bills go up after new meters were installed.

This month, Xcel said Smith used more than 1,100 kilowatts of electricity, up from her average of 300. According to Xcel's website, that's more than a small commercial business uses in an average month.

"That's impossible," she said.

It's also about four times more electricity use than her highest month.

"I thought it was a mistake," she said.

Smith said she has called Xcel three times and time she was told that it was normal.

"I will have to work my hours just to pay my electric bill and I'm working quite a few right now," she said.

A company spokeswoman said Tuesday after being contacted by the Problem Solvers that it appears there was a mistake with Smith's bill. Xcel is investigating whether it was a mechanical or human error, but it will correct her bill.

Xcel adds it has been a hot summer and people might notice higher-than-average utility bills.  But the spokeswoman says if you suspect a mistake, contact their customer service at the number on your bill.