Richland residents have experienced higher than usual utility bills this past billing cycle. Some even increasing by 134% from the previous, according to a Richland resident who complained to the Daily Guide about her bill.

The complaints about utility bills sparked off a round of them in a group that the Daily Guide maintains on Facebook. Many of the complainants were Richland residents. The bills have many residents questioning if the rates have increased.

When asked about this issue, Richland City Clerk, Susan Alexander said, “the rates have not increased. Increased kilowatt usage on customers’ accounts led to the higher bills. This is something that happens every year when the temperatures get drastically cold.”

Not only were Richland residents affected, but electricity and utility bills were higher across the board. As discussed previously by the Daily Guide, Laclede Electric Cooperative issued a statement warning their customers that they would see an increase with their bills. Alexander stated that she did the same. Using the City of Richland Missouri Facebook page, she issued warnings to residents as to what they could be expecting.

Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman was also issuing warnings via social media that Waynesville residents were likely to see higher utility bills due to some of the severe cold snaps the area has experienced since the end of December.

After city workers read meters each month, in Richland, numbers are put through a check system, sending an alert if the reading seems abnormal. If this occurs, rereads will be conducted to make sure it was read correctly the first time, according to information provided by Richland. However, it is encouraged that residents also keep track of meter usage to further ensure accurate numbers each month.

Meters are read on the 15th of every month. For January, this fell on a holiday. Shortly afterwards, there was a water main breakage, further prolonging when the meters were to be read. Due to this, 34 to 35 days were recorded as opposed to the usual amount for Richland customers. This is also likely a contributing factor to higher electric bills for Richland residents.

“Heater efficiency is essential when temperatures are that cold,” Alexander continued. “Proper maintenance is important to ensure that heaters and furnaces are able to keep up.”

Alexander and other city officials stress the fact that they feel for the residents, but there is not anything they can do. It was just simply too cold. Energy Assistance programs are offered through Missouri Ozarks Community Action (MOCA), to be utilized by those that qualify for the program. For more information about these programs, please visit http://www.mocaonline.org/public/Liheap/Liheap.html

To stay updated on future issues or concerns, please follow the “City of Richland Missouri” Facebook page. For more information or to speak with someone about utility bills, please contact Susan Alexander at (573) 765-4421 or the utilities department at (573) 765-3532.