Customers have flooded National Grid's call centers at almost unprecedented levels this winter, questioning the motives behind an increase in their electric bill.

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WESTERN NEW YORK – Customers have flooded National Grid's call centers at almost unprecedented levels this winter, questioning the motives behind an increase in their electric bill.

However, although a National Grid spokesperson said some people are seeing "very dramatic increases," including spikes of anywhere from 10 to 15 percent this month, the company said it has no control over those prices.

"[It's] largely driven by the price of the actual electricity itself," National Grid spokesperson Steve Brady said. "The actual energy we buy in the market on behalf of our customers."

That's because it simply buys an energy supply and then sells it to customers as a middleman. Problem is, a combination of extreme cold this winter across the country and an increase in gas prices – which tends to cause a ripple effect for electricity as well – has driven up those supply prices.

Brady said National Grid's call centers are taking on average 30,000 more customer calls per month compared to about a year and a half ago, but he also notes that the increase could have been much worse.

This month, National Grid froze its commodity prices to January levels, avoiding increases that could have put quite a dent in the wallets of residents and business owners.

"First time we've ever done this, actually," Brady said. "We were anticipating spikes in February of 20, 30 sometimes 40 percent," Brady said.

Brady said customers will need to make up the difference over the course of the next several months, with the goal of easing the burden during the difficult winter months.