Tacoma mom shocked over latest power bill: 'I was flabbergasted'

TACOMA, Wash. -- A Tacoma mother is in shock after opening her power bill this month. She says her bill is normally $500 every two months. However, this time it was three times that amount.

Tacoma Public Utilities cites a surge in usage during the winter months.

With four children at home, Tanya Bartlett tries to find ways to save.

“Like I said, I’m really cheap,” said Bartlett. “I don’t spend money willy-nilly, so I know where every penny goes.”

So you can imagine her surprise when she opened up her power bill this month and saw how much she owed Tacoma Public Utilities.

“I was shocked, I was flabbergasted that my bill went from $500 every two months to over $1,500,” said Bartlett.

TPU points to the Bartlett’s usage during the winter months as the reason behind the high bill.

“It’s been colder this year, and it’s expected that people’s bills are going to jump during the winter months, especially when we have a cold winter like this. I don’t know specifically how this person is using electricity in a home but my hunch is that they’re just trying to stay warm,” said Chris Gleason, a TPU spokesperson.

Bartlett said they have been extra careful to conserve, and they are finding that they aren’t the only ones surprised by their bill.

Bartlett said she posted her situation on Facebook and heard from others experiencing the same kind of increase, but TPU says there is assistance available.

“You have to have a certain level of income, and it’s for people’s income that is fairly low or people who may have a disability, we offer assistance through those programs,” said Gleason. “For anyone, we have payment arrangements they can make.”

While the utility says it tries to work with families who can’t pay the bills so that they don’t get power shut off, the Bartletts are urging others to ask questions and never take a bill for face value.

“Call them, question them, have them come out and check your meter, have them come out and check your home and see what you can do with the weatherization."

Since Q13 News started investigating this case, TPU is sending a conservation specialist to the Bartlett’s home Tuesday to see what might be causing this surge in energy use.