"I was furious," Carol Dean said of a recent electric bill. She was billed almost $2,100 for one month of service.
Dean's bill prompted an alert from the Association of Sheridan Condominium Coop Owners (ASCO), which represents dozens of high-rises in Chicago, warning of an alleged "electric same" and suppliers offering variable rates.
"We have had people who have had $2,000 and $3,000 bills for a month," Sheli Lulkin, ASCO, said.
Like many of the condos represented by ASCO, Dean's Gold Coast condo is heated with all electricity. She said her bills are normally between $200 and $400 a month.
"Had I really looked at it, I would have understood it, " Dean said.
Dean is on a variable rate plan. That means rates can go up and down depending on the market. She said Plymouth Rock Energy promised her a lower price when she switched to that variable rate. But it didn't last.
"We are seeing them over 25-cents a kilowatt hour, which is five times more than a unit owner should be paying," Hans Herrmann, broker, said. Hermann was listed as a resource on the alert from ASCO. He sells fixed rate electric plans from several suppliers and is opposed to all variable rate plans.
"It's a 'Boiler room' situation. It's kind of like, you saw 'The Wolf of Wall Street' where people call form a telemarketing group," Herrmann said.
In a statement, Plymouth Rock Energy said, "As a family-owned business that has been serving the energy needs of our customers for more than 60 years, the vast majority are on fixed price rate plans.… Plymouth recommends that consumers always lock in fixed rates as this provides maximum predictability on their energy bills."
A spokesperson also said the company educates consumers about variable rate risks and that the brutal winter has increased use. The spokesperson said Dean used 2200 more kilowatt hours this February than last.
"I couldn't believe my eyes," Dean said.