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Alliant Energy says summer months, not smart meters may be causing spike in bills

Alliant Energy says the smart meters aren't activated to act as smart meters yet.

Some Alliant Energy customers say they're confused by a sudden spike in their recent bill and are blaming the company's newly installed smart meters. Alliant Energy says those meters are tested before being installed and can't be the cause for any spikes because they're not activated to act as smart meters yet.

"My bill usually is anywhere between $150 and $200," said Kirsten Hogan, an Alliant Energy customer. "This is over double. My bill is now $445."

Hogan has lived in her home since last December and says July is the first month she's ever seen a problem with her electricity bill. She is one of many Alliant Energy customers who says she's seen a spike in July's bill, even though she says her family isn't home often.

"We make sure all the lights are off. We make sure nothing's running. Nothing's really plugged in," said Hogan.

Some customers believe the smart meters are raising their bill, but Alliant Energy says the smart meters have nothing to do with a customer's bill because they aren't fully activated yet.

"Right now the meters that people have on the back of their house are operating just like the meter they used to have on the back of their house," said Mike Wagner, a spokesperson for Alliant Energy.

The meters are a part of a three-year plan upgrading the company's electric and natural gas distribution systems. When all of the meters in Iowa are installed, they will help Alliant Energy detect any problems faster and reduce pollution.

"A smart meter basically just attaches a radio to that [the meter] so we can read their meter remotely," said Wagner.

Wagner says one reason many people are seeing a spike in their bill is because the summer months are naturally hotter.

"A lot of people are thinking, 'Well, I set my air conditioner to 72 degrees, 71 degrees, 69 degrees, and I just leave it there and my bill should be the same'. The problem is your house isn't getting a break and your air conditioner isn't getting a break," explained Wagner.

For any customer who doesn't believe the air conditioner is the problem, the company is encouraging them to call so they can work together in figuring out the real issue.

"We can go over their account with them because we really want to make sure that our customers are understand their bill and understanding their usage," said Wagner.

Alliant Energy says they want to remind customers they can sign up for budget building, which is an average of the last 12 months of usage. Customer care representatives can be reached at 1-800-255-4268.

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