Ewa Beach residents complain of high electric bills

Ewa Beach residents complain of high electric bills

EWA BEACH, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When Christian Sams and his sister, Amanda, got their recent electricity bill, they were hit with sticker shock.

"Before they raised it it was about $350 a month. Now we're paying about $790 a month," Christian Sams said.

The Sams said the sharp increase took them by surprise because they're frugal with electricity use.

"We come from upstate New York where we have the heat on all day long, 80 degrees in the house, and our bill was $200," Amanda Sams said.

The Sams family rents a three-bedroom home at the Waterfront at Puuloa. The subdivision sits on Navy land. The housing belongs to mainland company Carmel Partners.

"For me to hear that the rates have increased dramatically is a little bit of a surprise," regional manager Suzette Smith said.

She said electricity rates have gone up because the Navy raised them 130 percent, but Carmel absorbed much of the increase and did not pass it on to tenants.

"What Carmel has done is capped a recent rate increase that the Navy imposed on all of their customers at the current HECO rate," she said.

The Navy's old charge was 28 cents per kilowatt hour. To recoup losses the Navy incurred in previous years the rate was increased to about 63 cents. Smith said Carmel is charging residents only 35 cents per kilowatt hour and paying the rest.

"They realized people cannot afford such large increases at one time," she said.

She is confused why the Sams' bill is so high.  But they're not the only ones. On the community's Facebook page, other residents complain about a spike in their bills, too.

Amanda Sams said most of the family's savings were tapped to pay the higher electricity cost, but they're falling behind and they've gotten eviction notices.

"We're looking at possibly being out on the street," she said.

"It's like a monopoly," Christian Sams said. "We have nowhere else to go."

Smith wants Waterfront at Puuloa tenants who question their electricity bills to contact her office staff immediately so they can investigate on a case-by-case basis.

"We can look at historical data, come up with averages, see if something is wrong with the meter potentially and then try to attack it from that angle," she said.

The Sams said they can't afford to do it themselves but several of their neighbors are now talking to lawyers about the jump in electricity costs that has come as a jolt.

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