|Published:||Oct 23, 2012 10:42 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Oct 23, 2012 11:50 PM EDT|
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fl. - Struggling to keep the lights on. Local charities are seeing a greater demand for help paying electric bills.
Some clients coming in with bills at least 100 dollars more than the previous month.
St Vincent de Paul charity in Charlotte County is concerned with the recent bill amounts they've been asked to cover. They say it coincides with new electric meters.
FPL leaders say they are in the process of updating their electric grid which means millions of customers are getting smart meters.
"It just makes hard when you can't provide," says Kathie Digiacomo.
Port Charlotte mom Kathie Digiacomo says keeping the lights on in her house is getting tougher and tougher.
"If i have an electric bill of 369 dollars, where is that going to come from when I get 1200 dollars a month? I paid 185 dollars which is all i had enough for ... it was due the 15th and on Saturday I got the turn off notice for today... I didn't know what I was going to do," she adds.
She came here, to St Vincent de Paul, a charity that offers assistance paying electric bills. A place they're seeing more demand for that kind of help.
"They just can't make it, everything's going up... they're having a hard time surviving," says Leo Beaulieu.
Just last month, St Vincent de Paul paid 10-thousand dollars worth of electric bills. Answering almost 80 requests, and they say the bill amounts are increasing since the new smart meters went in.
"You haven't changed anything? They said no haven't changed a thing but they have put in a new meter. We have seen them go up 100 dollars a month, that's a lot of money," Don Giarrante
FPL leaders say crews are installing these smart meters for customers across the state, about 4 point 5 million of them. They say they're not surprised to hear some customers are shocked by their recent bills.
"Unfortunately a lot of our customers are getting these new meters... and they're coinciding with our high bill season," says Elaine Hinsdale.
A season these folks don't know how much longer they can handle before they cash out.
"We're here to help and if this continues, our ability to help people and especially more people is really going to be diminished," says Giarrante.
FPL leaders remind folks to contact them if you think you are having an issue with your smart meter or need assistance paying your bill.
If you want to learn more about St Vincent de Paul or donate to one of their programs, go to: