CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Mary Ross got a big surprise when she opened her bill from Duke Energy in April.
The power company said she owed more than $1,200 in back payments for power she had used but not paid for. The total bill for that month - the $1,200 plus that month's charges - came to $1,505.54.
"I had been paying whatever they sent," Ross said. "When it got to $1,500, then things went haywire because there wasn't no way we made a bill something like that."
Ross moved into her single-story ranch home with her husband in the fall of 2014. She signed up for the company's equal payment plan program, which charges customers a flat rate each month based on the amount of energy the company projects they will use for the coming year.
At the end of the 12-month period, Duke Energy sends EPP customers an adjustment that either credits them for power that they paid for but didn't use or charges them for power they used but was not covered by the equal payments they made as part of the program.
A spokeswoman for Duke Energy said Ross' bill was so much higher than what the company projected it would be because the projection was based on the home's previous tenant.
A usage chart provided to Ross by Duke Energy shows a spike in energy usage in December 2014 through March 2015. According to the chart, Ross used as much as 4,000 kw/h in her home during those months. She questions how that can be.
Ross and her husband have continued paying Duke Energy for new charges incurred in April and May, records show, but they have not paid the $1,200 EPP balance. Now their outstanding balance with the company has swelled to more than $1,700.
"This is just a single family dwelling, ain't no way the time [my husband] and I have been here we could run up a light bill of $1,700," she said.
A call to Duke Energy on Friday afternoon got results for Ross and her husband.
A company spokeswoman said Duke Energy would work with Ross to establish a payment plan that she and her husband can afford. The spokeswoman also said a technician would be sent to Ross' home to make sure her power meter is working properly.