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      Schumer wants investigation into skyrocketing electric bills

      B ob Crouse built his 3 bedroom modest home in Brewerton in 1985. The house is equipped with a heat pump which cools the home in the summer and warms it in the winter. The heating and cooling system uses electricity. Though he receives monthly bills from National Grid, Crouse chose HIKO Energy of Morsey NY as his electric service company.

      Like thousands of homeowners in central New York, Crouse says his electric bills have skyrocketed this winter. "Outrageous, they're completely outrageous. There's no reason to have to pay more than double for a month." Crouse told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon.

      Crouse's electric bills during this past heating season:

      D ecember -- $ 881 .

      J anuary -- $ 725

      F ebruary -- $1,408

      M arch -- $1,273

      H is usage remained steady averaging 4 , 900 k wh per month.

      U tilities and independent suppliers say that th e unusually cold winter has caused an increased demand for all forms of energy including natural gas . The demand has jacked up the wholesale price of electricity along the entire eastern seaboard.

      U.S. S enator Charles Schumer says his phone "has been ringing off the hook" as central New Yorkers complain of high electric bills. Schumer is calling upon the Federal Trade Commission to conduct an investigation. "The costs have gone up so much, about 65 percent on average for a National Grid customer that it's hard to believe that something is not amiss here. We know there was a polar vortex and we know that the price of natural gas went up, but not 65 percent." Schumer says.

      C rouse thinks such an investigation is overdue , "It should have been done a long time ago. Poor people have to keep paying and paying and they (electric suppliers) are getting rich."

      S enator Schumer says if the FTC finds evidence of price gouging, he would expect electricity suppliers to pay penalties and rebates to residential users.