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High electric bills this month shock customers

The 37-cent rate case expense surcharge that appears on its electric bills in Texas is to pay for the city of El Paso's legal costs in rate cases that involve the utility.

You may be in for a shock when you open up your electric bill this month. After last month's triple-digit temperatures and the long-lasting heat wave, residents this month are finding their electric bills to be higher than they ever could have imagined.

"I have noticed," said Daniela Lizarraga.

As a resident of the Sunset Heights district, she lives in an apartment with very limited amount of stuff.

"I don't have a TV or computer," she said, "so it wasn't too bad of a shock. Usually my bill is about $20 a month, and I think this month it increased to about $32."

But some residents are noticing their bills reflect the current temperatures. Bills are ranging from $90 to as high as $150. We even found one resident whose bill showed $211 worth of electricity used last month alone.

"I think it might have to do with people leaving on their refrigerated air," said Daniela Lizarraga.

"This is the time of the year where your average consumption also increases on your electric bill," said Eddie Gutierrez, the spokesman for El Paso Electric.

Gutierrez said that during the summer months, from May to October, the company charges slightly higher rates due to the increase in usage by the city. During May through October, the first 600 kilowatts used by a household are charged at $0.094 per kilowatt. Once you reach the 601st kilowatt, you are then charged $0.099 per kilowatt for the remainder of the month.

Gutierrez said with the city setting a new record for energy load last month, he expects customers could use similar amounts of energy this month. That means it could be another expensive bill in August.

George Ponce, president of Alpine Electric in Central El Paso, said while the heat may have you cranking your air conditioning, residents can do small things to minimize their bill. He recommends residents unplug electronics, such as computers or phone chargers, that you may not be using. While the amount of energy they consume may be low, it does add up. He also recommends residents switch their houses to LED lighting.

"LED is a fraction of what incandescent and other bulbs (cost) and that will help out," Ponce said. "If you have enough bulbs and lights in the house, and you change to LED, it will make a difference."

Elena Alvarado is a resident of Central El Paso. She said she's changed her house's lights to LEDs and has noticed a difference.

"Where we pay more for the bulbs, we save in the electricity bill," said Alvarado. "That's a great deal. It's better to do that."

Ponce estimates residents could save as much as 20 percent on their bill if they switch to LED lights.

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