Man Blames 55 West For Pricey Utility Bill

ORLANDO, Fla. — An Orlando man is blaming his downtown condo complex for his high utility bill. His most recent bill from OUC was nearly $540, and he said most of that money is for the empty 55 West's chilled water air conditioner.

Derek Seiferheld's three-bedroom, 12th-floor apartment at 55 West in Orlando isn't huge, but you'd think it was considering his latest bill from OUC.

"I've lived in a four-bedroom house before and it was a third of this," he said.

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A closer look at Seiferheld's nearly $540 bill shows more than $300 of it is for a cooling service charge. 55 West is one of several downtown buildings cooled by an alternative chilled water system, giving large buildings a more efficient way to handle air conditioning.

"I guess it might be efficient, but it's quite expensive," he said.

"It's not efficient for you," WFTV reporter Eric Rasmussen stated.

"Exactly," Seiferheld said.

There are eight chiller plants in Orlando. OUC says it controls the chilled water when it comes out, but once the water goes into a building, OUC says, it becomes that property's responsibility. OUC said its part of the system is working fine.

Seiferheld said one employee of 55 West admitted to him there's a problem.

"I think his direct remarks were, ‘We gotta get this fixed ASAP before all our residents go broke paying the bills,'" he said.

Sources told WFTV the 33-floor building is only 30 percent occupied, but officials at 55 West insist the number is closer to 65 percent. Seiferheld and his roommates keep their unit at a toasty 78 degrees, but now they wonder if they're also paying to cool empty space.

However, 55 West disputes that, saying each unit is managed individually.

"We just want somebody to tell us what's going on," Seiferheld said.

Late Tuesday afternoon, managers from 55 West told WFTV they are working diligently to solve the problem. They say they've brought in experts and are reviewing the bills with residents.