Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Northeastern REMC

In 2006, there were projections that electricity and natural gas rates would increase substantially. For the most part my family is good at using only the electricity they need, but like any family, there is always room to save more. Keep in mind this is pre daylight saving time when the sun actually rises earlier in the morning reducing the need for lights. One of the things we did was to replace all our incandescent with compact fluorescent bulbs. If there were four bulbs in a lamp, we put only two or three in its place. I also made sure that lights went off instead of kids reading in bed, falling a sleep and leaving five lights on all night. Our single largest consumer of electricity is our dryer. With seven people, the dryer runs a lot. You can save about 50% of the energy consumed in drying a load by simply using a lower hear, shaking the clothes out every five minutes and removing those items that dry fast allowing more air flow around the clothes. We even did without air conditioning up until August relying on the cool nights to cool down the house. For the most part, I thought we were doing a good job. Based on replacing light bulbs, we should have saved about 250 Kw-hr per month.

When I received the next month’s electric bill, I was pleased with our savings. Our reduction was in line with what I had projected. What added to our reduction was our kids went to their aunt and uncle’s on the lake for several weeks. Our consumption was in line when my wife and I were first married BC (before children). Over the next two-months, we took a long vacation, turned everything off except the refrigerator and sump. We came back and our bill was again low. If you our not using electricity it should be low. In the third, month band camp started both Girl and Boy Scout camps reduced our numbers again. Our third month was again, in line with what I had expected. However, in the fourth month we found a note in our electric bill stating our electric meter went bad in August and they installed another. These things happen. What I did not count on was that the Northeastern REMC began looking at our electrical consumption and said their meter actually went bad four months previous. They estimated a new bill based on the previous year’s usage. They stated that all our changes we made to consumption in the previous four months did not reduce our consumption at all and estimated

I asked Northeastern REMC how the calculated the bill, but they will not tell me. They would not listen to my explanation of why our consumption was low nor was why their estimate based on 2005 high. In fact, they still charged us $15 a month for the use of their faulty meter. I estimated what I though the last month should be and paid what I thought was fair. Northeastern REMC would have none of this. They said they had the right to estimate our usage any time our usage in any given month falls below 50% of the normal usage. I filed a complaint with the Indiana Regulatory Commission. The Commission finally replied. In the reply, I find that Northeastern REMC did not provide the Commission with the actual billed electric usage for 2005 and 2007. In addition, during the same periods in 2005 and 2006, they misread our meter three times. Generally, this is not a problem in that you end up with a low-billed amount one month and a high billed amount the next. In this case, because the two months were at the beginning and the end of the months in question, using same period usages to estimate usages are not accurate. These incorrect meter readings increased the previous and post same period consumption by 50% beyond what was actually used.

Warnings to all whom travel and turn off all appliances and lights; if you have Northeastern REMC, they may charge you for too little consumption on a meter if it reads less than 50% of the same period previously. In addition, you may start doing what we have done and read you meter daily. In this way, you can defend yourself when they misread a meter or state your meter has gone bad and bill you for a theoretical faulty meter. Make sure you call the Utility as soon as you find a discrepency with your meter and the monthly-billed usage. This should make it more difficult for them to go back farther than one month. In addition, if you suspect a faulty meter, call them immediately. In this day of being mindful of energy consumption, it is amazing that Northeastern REMC cannot come up with a better way to estimate electrical usage when a meter goes bad.

What is Northeastern REMC’s take on all of this? I as a consumer should have known my meter was bad when I got my first low bill. It is not up to Northeastern REMC to ensure the meter that I pay a monthly fee for is accurate and working but mine as a consumer. If a meter is found to be faulty, they have the right to go back 12 months and adjust ANY months they think were under read by their meter.

This past months consumption was 608 Kw-hr and that was with the furnace still on, day light savings time (now know to increase utilities by 4 to 7%) and a full house with many additional sleepovers. I guess I should expect Northeastern REMC to come and say my meter is bad again.

2 Comments:

At 10:59 PM, Blogger Bernie's Dad said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 11:00 PM, Blogger Bernie's Dad said...

I have much better deal with Michigan Indiana power. Can you switch?

 

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