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Upset New Yorkers Fume As Con Edison Bills Skyrocket

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Con Edison customers are feeling the economic squeeze. They are seeing increases of up to 300% in their gas and electric bills this month.

City and state leaders are demanding an investigation, but the utility told CBS2's Christina Fan on Wednesday higher energy costs are to blame.

When Alex Rivas opened his January electricity bill for his three-bedroom apartment in Long Island City he was sure there had to be a clerical error. His typical $260 monthly statement nearly tripled to $746.

"I opened up the bill on Saturday and my first thought was this must actually be a mistake. I was actually out of town for several days in the month of January, reached out to a friend of mine who was house-sitting to ask if he had started a Bitcoin mine or an illegal marijuana farm," Rivas said.

READ MORECon Edison Asks State Regulators For Utility Rate Hikes

In Williamsburg, Adam Wiesehan's bill jumped from $200 to $400 for a 500 square-foot home.

All across the city, families are distressed, baffled, and struggling to pay.

"We have a newborn, so we are going to have to make some sacrifices this month," Wiesehan said.

Spencer Morin told CBS2's Ali Bauman he could barely believe his latest Con Edison bill.

"There was definitely something wrong," he said.

The bill for his Brooklyn apartment spiked to $550 from his usual charge of $300 and change.

"I've never seen my electric bill ever go above $400, even on a bad month, so to see it jump up to $550 was strange and not welcome," Morin said.

Watch Christina Fan's report -- 

Con Edison says rising prices are due to increasing supply costs and a spokesperson said that the utility buys natural gas on the wholesale market and provides it to customers at the same price it paid.

"Current global events have had impact on natural gas. Natural gas is a major driver of electricity costs," Con Ed spokesperson Jamie McShane said. "We don't generate electricity, and we don't control the cost of it. We don't make a profit off of it."

Some customers aren't buying that explanation.

"I don't really understand how that is possible. Natural gas prices did not increase by 160%," Rivas said.

"To tell people that after taking their money in the aftermath is kinda ridiculous," Morin said.

READ MORECon Edison: 2 People Electrically Shocked While Walking Dog In Greenpoint

City leaders argue the company should have safeguards in place to protect against market volatility. More than a dozen council members and state Sen. Michael Gianaris sent letters to the Public Service Commission, demanding an investigation.

"We should ask who are their suppliers? What kind of contract did they enter into and why is it that they allow for these dramatic cost shifts to occur?" Gianaris said.

The Public Service Commission said in a statement it "does not regulate commodity or supply prices; they are driven by global supply and demand."

Meanwhile, families say until prices stabilize, they'll have to learn to acclimate to freezing temperatures in their homes.

Con Edison said it does have long- and short-term contracts with suppliers to try to reduce costs for customers. The utility said it expects lower prices in the weeks ahead.

CBS2's Christina Fan contributed to this report. Editor's note: This story was first published Feb. 9.

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