Have you received an electric bill lately?

HOUSTON The problem can be traced back to Hurricane Ike. The bills are in the mail right now and lots of people are wondering just what is going on. Some have seen their bills triple. If you have not gotten your power bill yet, expect some sticker shock.

May Ella Beraud is getting used to living life in the dark.

"This refrigerator up here and the stove, that's all I got running right now," said Beraud.

Beraud shut off the lights and the air conditioner and just about everything else after opening her latest power bill.

"It's too much," she said. "It does not make sense to me, plus during the hurricane the light was out for about three of four days."

Beraud say she was caught off guard by the $427 power bill, and her next door neighbor was not expecting his bill to be four times higher than normal either.

"Last month, it was $43.86 and this month, it is $208," said resident Anthony Lamkin.

The problem is not limited to their apartment complex. All over town, people are seeing huge bills. For some, it's the most expensive bill of the year. The reason -- Hurricane Ike.

When the storm hit in September, CenterPoint workers stopped reading meters and started working on getting electricity restored. Centerpoint was allowed to estimate the bills for September.

"Most customers received a bill from their provider that was based on estimated usage that also had a formula taken into account that many people were without power for a couple of days following Hurricane Ike," said Alicia Dixon with CenterPoint.

Depending on where you live, the estimates may have been very low. Now, customers are seeing two months of actual usage show up on their bills and for many people, it's more than they expected.

"I thought that when they did it, it was not going to be that much, no," said Beraud. "Four hundred dollars? I just can't pay that."

CenterPoint says their meter readers are back on the job and this should be the last month of Ike estimations.

"Basically the bottom line is customers are only going to be billed for the electricity they consumed," said Dixon.

If you got a high power bill and cannot pay it off on time, call your provider. I cannot promise all providers will work with you, but many have said they will. If you have to call them, be patient. The calls are up by more than 30 percent at Reliant alone, so a lot of people are complaining about this right now.

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