As in all aspects of life, mistakes happen. However, when these mistakes lead to you being over charged by thousands, if not tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, it is time to start paying a little closer attention. There are three main potential reasons why you could be overpaying for your utilities: broken meters recording erroneous data possibly undetected by the utility; billing errors created by utility software updates and/or manual billing processes; and, meters on the “wrong rate plan,” one that charges higher fees than a different plan. At Fusebox we, unfortunately, see these issues all of the time. Below you can find some examples of when Fusebox helped our clients save money by addressing and resolving utility errors.
My Meter Said What?!
A utility meter may be changed for a variety of reasons, including a malfunctioning part or a switch from analog to digital. A member of the Fusebox team identified unusual gas usage patterns on one meter at a school district after the utility changed out meters. Whereas the old meter had shown high use and cost for several years, the new meter consistently showed low usage and cost. There had been no change in usage patterns by the district. Fusebox contacted the utility requesting that the old meter be tested. The meter test showed that the previous meter was broken and had been for at least three years, resulting in incorrect billing. In the end, Fusebox negotiated a refund for the district of $160,000!
I Didn’t “Demand” That
Billing errors occur regularly. As a method to catch these errors early on, Fusebox team members review interval demand data weekly and then compare it to the billed demand on the monthly utility bills. Fusebox has found that, in Arizona, demand charges can account for 40-60% of the monthly bill. This is the case in other states, as well. In May 2020, a Fusebox team member found a discrepancy in the April bill for one of his clients. The billed demand was 1,555 KW, but interval demand data showed that the highest demand for the billing period was 457 KW. After bringing this to the attention of the utility, they agreed to rebill our client. As we wait to see the rebill, Fusebox estimates that we have earned our client about an $8,000 credit!
Changing The Fate Of The Rates
Utilities place accounts on different rates based on usage and demand patterns. Some utilities will review these patterns annually to ensure that the account is on the optimum rate plan, others require the client to reach out to them to make any rate changes. Fusebox team members are experts in rate plan analyses to ensure that accounts are on the best rate plan. It is one of the first analyses we do after acquiring a new client. After completing a rate plan analysis for a school district, Fusebox team members found that by switching four E-32 L accounts to the School TOU L rate plan, the district could see an estimated combined annual cost reduction of $220,000 at current usage and demand levels!
Utilities are made of humans and humans make mistakes. This is why Fusebox and the Fusebox team are so crucial in helping you save. We are your second set of eyes!