Anger over high electric bills from Sharyland Utilities. Customers claim the high rates are hurting their families and businesses. On Thursday, they let out their frustrations at a meeting with the Office of Public Utility Counsel in Big Spring and things got a little heated.
More than 200 people showed up for the meeting. Dozens of Sharyland customers voiced their anger about the shockingly high rates. Many people said their bills have more than doubled, and for some, even tripled. Now they want to see change but it could be awhile before that happens.
"The concern quite simply are electric rates. They are not just high but disproportionately high compared with other places in the state. Why should the people around Martin and Howard Counties pay proportionally so much more than everyone in the state of Texas. That makes no sense," said State Senator, Kel Seliger.
"I had $63 worth of usage on my bill and that was from watering cows but my distribution portion of that bill was over $9,000 in just a single month and we don't have a single water well running," said Marcus Halfmann, a Sharyland Customer.
Halfmann is a local cotton farmer and he says if the high rates don't change, he'll be out of business in no time. What many customers are angry about is that it will be several months before a rate case is held.
"We need a rate case hearing sooner than that. If I pay $9,000 a month for the next said months, that's $50,000. Can you imagine any small business taking a $50,000 dollar hit," said Halfmann.
"It's up to the Public Utility Commission (of Texas) to set the next rate case. I will send them a letter immediately saying that this rate case needs to take place right now," said Seliger.
That's why the Public Utility Counsel, or OPUC, held a meeting where customers could voice their frustrations. NewsWest 9 reached out to Sharyland Utilities and they said the Public Utility Counsel plays a critical role in advocating for rate payers and they're happy they were able to hear from customers Thursday. In the meeting, customers had strong opinions about Sharyland Utilities.
"We owned these lines. This was a co-op. Sharyland stole these lines from us and now they are making us pay for them too," said Halfmann.