BALTIMORE, Ohio (WCMH) – It was June when AEP Ohio implemented a nearly 30% rate increase for some customers, but a Fairfield County man said his monthly electric bill was steadily rising long before then.

With no explanation as to why, and unable to get through to the utility company, he contacted Better Call 4.

Russ Herboltzheimer has lived in his Baltimore, Ohio, home since 1995 and said his monthly bills from AEP Ohio have changed drastically with each passing year.

“Nothing like what they are now,” Herboltzheimer said. “It’s just like, every year, it’s just getting horrible.”

Even before the power company announced its 28% rate hike at the beginning of June, Herboltzheimer said his bills were already high and continued to climb.

“The first one is $204 — $245 —  $307 — $319,” he said.

And that was just through the first few months of 2023. What Herboltzheimer couldn’t figure out, though, was why?

“It’s not like we added a hot tub or anything like that,” he said.

Herboltzheimer called AEP to ask for a home energy audit, which he hoped would give him an answer, but said the customer service representative told him that the power company no longer conducts those audits.

“They said about all you can do is go out and read the meter, tell us what it says, and we’ll check to see if that’s the correct reading on that,” he said. “Hell, that ain’t going to tell me nothing.”

“We understand that rate increases are unwelcome news to our customers,” AEP Ohio Vice President of Regulatory and Finance Lisa Kelso said.

That’s when Herboltzheimer called Better Call 4, who reached out to AEP. The company said someone would contact Herboltzheimer to provide options, and it did.

Herboltzheimer said the customer service manager told him that his home’s energy consumption is steady and that there are no significant spikes or drops. This essentially means that AEP doesn’t see anything on its end to indicate an issue.

Herboltzheimer says the company told him again that it could not provide a home energy audit, but did suggest he hire someone to do that, and make sure there isn’t an issue in his home, like a failing appliance.

As for his concerns with the amount of money due each month…

“You know, we’re mid-80s, on a fixed income, you know?” Herboltzheimer said. “We don’t get a raise every year. We live on social security and everything.”

He said AEP offered assistance programs and payment plans to help. As far as finding another energy supplier, AEP told Herboltzheimer that due to where he lives, he can’t do that.