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Toronto woman on oxygen blindsided by exorbitant electric bills

A Toronto woman with serious health issues has electric bills totaling more than $1,000. Patty Bartley is on oxygen 24 hours a day and fears if she loses her electricity, she'll have to stay in a hospital.

A Toronto woman with serious health issues has electric bills totaling more than $1,000.

Patty Bartley is on oxygen 24 hours a day and fears if she loses her electricity, she'll have to stay in a hospital.

Bartley, who is 73 years old, had been up to date on a budget payment plan with AEP Ohio until 2 months ago.

She was given two separate bills asking for nearly $1,600, and she doesn't know how or why this has happened.

"I received an electric bill one in the 800s; one in the 900s,” she said. “I'm on Social Security. I don't have money to pay these bills. And if I don't pay them, they're going to shut my electric off."

Bartley has had a rough go of it the past few months. She's had cancerous tumors removed from her kidneys and colon. She just had a stint placed in her heart. And she has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

"I have oxygen on 24 hours a day,” she said. “If they shut this off, I can't breathe. It's the last thing I have. If I don't breathe, I'm going to die.”

Bartley does live in an all-electric trailer on Liberty Lane in Toronto. But even air conditioning and oxygen tanks running all day wouldn't translate into a $1,000 bill. Her neighbors have similar electric outputs. A few said they settled the bills of previous owners with AEP, and that one owner who died 5 years ago had an illegal tap-in. None of this is confirmed with AEP, and it's unknown whether this is what's happening with Bartley. Regardless, the bills still stand.

"And now they're up to $900, and they said they'd shut it off if I didn't pay it. That scares me. I'm on oxygen; I have to breathe. I don't have the money. I don't know what to do."

Barltey's husband Frank has been a steady supporter, along with her dogs Sugar and Muffin. But the reality of her health comes rushing back, reminded by the bills that it could turn for the worst.

"I'm very weak,” she said. “Trying to survive that, and I get scared, I get upset. I'm trying to survive this!"

We reached out to AEP. A representative said they will not conduct an interview with us about her bill. They did get in touch with Patty within the past hour.

Patty called us and said she's getting the runaround and the company is insistent that these bills are valid, despite her budget plan she signed up for when she moved to the trailer a year ago.

She tried to get public assistance to help with the bills and she was turned away.

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