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Senator introduces bill that would allow customers to "opt out" of new smart meters

Published: Mar. 11, 2017 at 3:16 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 20, 2017 at 10:17 PM CDT
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HENDERSON CO., KY (WFIE) - We've heard your concerns over a sudden spike in energy bills.

Now, hundreds of outraged Kenergy customers are pushing state legislators to do something about it.

Kentucky Senator Dan "Malano" Seum introduced a bill that would allow people to "opt out" of the new smart meters that Kenergy customers are saying are causing their bills to surge.

We're told hundreds in our viewing area called into Frankfort on Friday pushing for the bill.

Senate Bill 121 would "require utilities seeking to install smart meters to give notice to affected customers and the right to opt out of having a smart meter installed."  You can read the bill in its entirety here.

Hundreds of Kenergy customers in the region are saying their bills have doubled, and some tripled.

We sat down with Kenergy customers Valerie Gentry and her husband at their home in Henderson County.

The Gentry's showed us hundreds of signatures they've collected from outraged customers. They tell us they've been in touch with an attorney, planning to take Kenergy officials to court.

"It's a community issue, and it's not just a few people. It's thousands," Valerie Gentry said.

Gentry created a Facebook page for concerned Kenergy customers. In just two weeks, it's generated over 16,000 members also upset by their bills.

On the other hand, utility providers say cold snaps in December caused a spike in electricity use, while at the same time, they say, smaller bill credits, rate increases, billing and meter changes-all approved by the Public Service Commission-caused bills to increase.

But, the Gentry's aren't buying it.

"Usage is going even when you're turning your breaker off. You're paying for the meter itself just to be a smart meter," Gentry said. "It hurts so bad, it's a decision between feeding your kids or trying to borrow money to pay your bill, because, these bills are not cheap."

The Gentry's say they're not giving up until they gets answers that make sense.

Public Service Commission officials say it's up to the utility company to determine if it wants to offer an opt-out policy for the smart meters.

Kenergy does not have that policy.

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