Each month as her power bill comes in Aleecia Henderson cringes and feels like heading for the hills.
The Masterton single mother of three has been reeling every month at the high cost of her power since Genesis Energy installed a Smart meter in her home more than a year ago.
Ms Henderson said her monthly power bills used to be between $140 and $190 but since the advanced Smart meter had been installed, her bills had sky-rocketed to more than $500 and $600 monthly.
She believes the meter is responsible as does beneficiary advocate Trevor MacKiewicz.
However, a local electrical engineer thinks Ms Henderson's old meter could have been the problem by giving lower readings than normal.
The mother of three said it was becoming increasingly difficult to survive financially on her income of about $1050 fortnightly.
Her latest power is a demand for $800, which includes about $200 overdue.
She said her electricity broker Powershop had requested she pay $250 weekly to keep on top of her energy bill. Her rent is $250 weekly and she has petrol bills to get to work, children to feed and cloth, school fees and other bills to pay, including a student loan from when she was training to be a nurse.
Living was becoming unaffordable for her family, Ms Henderson said.
"It's just ridiculous. My power bills have gone through the roof ... I always buy food first because my children have to be fed but when you get power bills of $500 or $600 it just become to difficult."
She can't understand why it is so high when no one is home between 8am and 4pm and only the fridge and hot water runs during this time. She doesn't use heaters but does shower daily.
"When we come home the kids will watch tele, I might do a couple of loads of washing and have a shower but apart from that we don't use that much ... it must be the Smart meter. It seems to be spinning all the time, even when there is nothing on. They reckon I use about 72-85kW per day. That's just bull ... ," she said. She thinks her only way out is to leave her children with older family in Masterton and move out of town to cheaper accommodation.
"It's just so hard. I don't know what else to do. It's just crazy. I feel like packing up and just going. It's not fair on the kids but there is nothing else I can do. Everything is going up."
Advocate Trevor MacKiewicz said he was trying to help support many people who were struggling to pay for power.
He believes the new Smart meters are giving false readings.
However, Masterton Electrical Inspector Tony Creber said he didn't think the Smart meters were at fault.
Old meter boxes could give a low reading, resulting in low power costs until meters were updated, giving people the impression the new meter could be wrong, he said.
"There could be a slight increase. The original meter may have been old and not working correctly. The old meter could have been working slow."
He knew of one consumer who wasn't being charged for water heating for more than a year because the meter had failed.
Mr Creber advises customers to contact their power supplier if they believed their bill was extremely high.
Genesis Energy chief executive Albert Brantley said they had installed more than 380,000 Smart meters with no "generic" issues.
Smart meters enabled customers to monitor and manage their consumption while allowing Genesis to provide accurate bills and a range of different services, Mr Brantley said.
"Where a customer feels there is an issue with their meter, we encourage them to contact us."
Meanwhile, Genesis Energy media adviser Richard Gordon said Smart meters were up-to-date technology.
The most problems they had had with consumers after installing the meters was they found many people were on the wrong power rate, resulting in high power bills.
"Most issues we have after putting in Smart meters is finding people have been on the incorrect tariff which has put their power up. They might have been paying a cheaper tariff. In some cases the cost has gone down because they were paying the wrong tariff."