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Utility Customers Across Area Experiencing Sticker Shock As Bills Skyrocket

FANWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Utility customers across the tri-state area are experiencing sticker shock with bills this month jumping in price, some nearly 400%.

It comes as state lawmakers are demanding accountability from utilities about power outages stemming from Tropical Storm Isaias.

Carolyn Brink Daly, of Fanwood, was nowhere near prepared for such an outrageous payment to PSE&G.

"It was literally like an electric shock through my body," she said.

Her bill for $540 is due this week. It's the most she and her husband have ever been charged by the utility.

"I mean, last month's bill was $120," she said. "Something's not right."

The complaints became commonplace on social media. One customer tweeted a picture of a bill for $551, asking how could someone just increase their consumption by approximately 380%?

CBS2's Jessica Layton took their concerns to the company, asking a PSE&G spokesperson, "How does a bill jump $400 in a month, and where was the warning to those customers?"

PSE&G says every situation is different, but extra air conditioning this summer plus more electricity use during the pandemic are likely reasons for the increase.

"If you're working from home, there's eight to 10 hours a day," said Fred Daum, executive director of customer operations for PSE&G. "Understanding of their new usage patterns just haven't caught up."

RELATED STORY: Customers Fume Over PSEG Long Island's Response To Tropical Storm Isaias In Day-Long Hearing

Meanwhile in New York, PSEG Long Island customers are furious they have to prove they were without power at least 72 hours after Tropical Storm Isaias, and show pictures or receipts to get reimbursed for the medication and food that went bad.

"They're terrible. We pay them enough money," Old Westbury, New York, resident Virginia Connors said.

"The receipts were not kept. Obviously we never expected a power outage," said Lori Green, of Syosset, New York.

In the hot eat during a virtual state hearing, the company's top brass acknowledged mistakes.

"We have backup processes in place so that we will be ready for the next storm," said PSEG Long Island President Daniel Eichhorn.

"We are empathetic. We are sympathetic. We need you to reach out," Daum said.

Back in New Jersey, that's exactly what Brink Daly did, tweeting and calling PSE&G.

At their request, she sent them a picture of her meter. When every penny matters, she just hopes it makes a difference.

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