Learning a Hard, Cold Lesson

Posted at: 01/23/2013 5:30 PM
Updated at: 01/23/2013 6:29 PM
By: Brianna Long

(ABC 6 News) -- Like many people, Jean and Pix Keefe, and even their dog Toby, were pretty cold Tuesday night. The temperatures outside were between three and seven degrees. Jean turned to the thermostat to crank up the heat. However, when she did, nothing happened.

"It was like fifty degrees in our house. Well, that's what it registered at. I don't know, it could have been colder," said Jean.

There was nothing mechanically wrong with the heater. Their electric company, People's Energy Cooperative, turned it off.

"We didn't know what else to do. So we went to bed. It was pretty cold," said Jean.

It turns out, back when Jean and Pix first moved in 16 years ago, they signed an agreement. It's called a duel fuel agreement. It gives them a nearly 50% savings on their monthly bill. In return, the Keefe's agreed to give control of their heat over to the Co-op during peak energy times, but they are required to have a backup heat source they can use, if that happens.

"This family had entered into an agreement and because of the weather conditions, we've controlled the past two days, and probably will control again today," said Elaine Garry, the President and CEO of People's Energy Cooperative.

"Well, if she says we did, probably did. We must have been when we first got here and we got here in July, maybe not realizing what that meant. I'm not sure, but I'll check into it," said Jean.

Even though this was a case of miscommunication, the hope is that it sends a message to others, to be careful.

"I would encourage them to make sure they understand, especially if they buy a house, or move into a house, to understand whether or not they're under a load control," said Garry.

As for the Keefe's; "I'm just ready for warmer weather," said Jean.

People's energy Co-Op is working with the Keefe's to see what other options they have, and maybe switch to a different plan. They even called while I was interviewing them; so hopefully this won't happen again.