FOREST, MS (WLBT) - Some Scott county residents complained of living in the cold, because they can not afford to pay their electric bills.
Dozens of Southern Pine Electric Power Association customers compared bills Tuesday that in some cases tripled over the last several months.
Scott county resident Jessie Gammage was among Southern Pine customers upset over recent power bills.
Her's went from approximately $227.00 dollars in December to more than $547.00 dollars this month.
And she's not alone.
"In November it was like $53.52, and now it's $1,223,86." said Southern Pine Electric Power Association customer Patsy McDonald.
"My light bill was $292.75. Now it's $502.25," said 74 year old Janie McClendon.
"It's $385.24. This is over half my little check," said 79 year old Mattie Thompson.
More than 50 people gathered on Highway 35 in Forest with statements in hand.
Most were elderly and on disability.
"The light bills are steadily escalating. I asked them that if an elderly or disabled person's not able to pay their bills if they're gonna cut the lights off and she said, 'Yes ma'am'," added McDonald.
The Scott county residents said the electric company charges outrageous rates, disconnection and deposit fees, has rude customer service reps and takes advantage of the poor.
They also said recent bills omitted kilowatt usage.
Many use gas and fire places for heating and don't understand the increase.
Southern Pine Electric Power Association spokesperson Penny McAlpin said the company is a not for profit cooperative.
"Bills are higher than normal due to the extremely cold weather in our area. Residential customers are paying 2% per kilowatt-hour less this year than at the same time last year. There will be a further reduction of 6.5% in February. We do work with our customers allowing them time to pay their bill," said McAlpin.
But these customers disagree.
"They won't work with you. They'll say if you can get someone to help you pay your bill then all they have to do is just send a letter in stating that they're gonna help you. But other than that you're gonna get cut off," said Dordetrice Jones who is disabled.
Southern Pine has 3,712 accounts in Scott county.
Officials said the company offers customers energy efficiency tips and level billing payment options which can spread payments over a 12 month period.
The residents are now organizing and planning to appeal to the Mississippi Public Service Commission.
Tuesday afternoon they signed petitions and started letter writing campaigns hoping to reach officials who can help.
Entergy Mississippi announced Tuesday that they are helping low income, elderly and disabled customers cope with recent high heating bills through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and The Power to Care Fund.