Sticker shock: Why has my power bill doubled or tripled?

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- If you've opened your January power bill and needed to break out the smelling salts, you're not alone.

Millions are experiencing sticker shock after seeing gas and electric bills that doubled or even tripled, but why the spike in power prices? And what can you do about it?

Their recent bill came as a shock to Rebecca Evans and her partner Jacob, who got walloped on their Greenpoint duplex's ConEd charge.

"It was like 10 times higher than last month, so I was really nervous," Evans said.

Their bill in December was $58.38, but it skyrocketed to a whopping $675.69 on their January statement.

"We got no explanation," Evans said. "We have not been able to get someone from ConEd on the line."

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City and state lawmakers are getting an earful from upset customer and are urging the Public Service Commission to investigate the sudden overnight hikes.

"People are rightfully freaking out," State Senator Michael Gianaris said. "They should take a look at the supply contracts that ConEd has entered into, what companies are they working with. Is this really the best we can do for our consumers?"

First, you must understand that your bill is in three parts. There is delivery, which is what the power company charges for service. That rate doesn't change, until the state regulator mandates it.

Next are taxes.

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The third part is the biggest -- supply -- what the utility pays suppliers for either gas or power. This charge fluctuates based on usage and the price of energy.

ConEd says the electricity has gotten more expensive because power plants are run off natural gas, and gas prices spiked recently.

Complaints on social media are blowing up.

Maria Dimitropolous asked ConEd why her bill was three times higher when she used less energy, and ConEd replied to her, explaining, "Con Edison does not make money on nor control supply costs, which have recently drastically increased. We apologize for the inconvenience."

But sorry doesn't cut it for some wondering why their bills are beyond what ConEd claimed was a 63% rise in kilowatt hour from December to January.

Tiffany Chu is Evans' landlord, and her huge cost increase is a mystery to her.

Her bill rose from 6 cents per kilowatt hour to more than 19 cents, a 213% spike, and she says she only uses ConEd's electricity for the entry and hallway lights and a mechanical closet.

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Her bill says usage went up, but it's consistent month to month.

"It went from $70 usually to $350 this month," she said.

ConEd said that because Chu is a landlord, she's classified as a "small commercial" customer. As a result, her rates -- and this month's spike in charges -- are different than residential customers.

Still, there are some resources for those who may need help. If you have trouble paying your energy bill, contact the utility. There are programs and payment plans to help.

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