Federal and State Regulation of Utility Companies: Facts Versus Myths
If you answered “TRUE” to any of these statements, you could be throwing money away each month when you pay your telephone and utility bills!
The truth of the matter is that utility billing errors are widespread. In addition, the vast majority of utility customers pay their utility bills largely by guesswork. In doing so, you are probably paying more than you should. And fewer than 50% of customers that qualify for new or alternative rate schedules designed to encourage energy efficiency or reduce your monthly utility expense are receiving any or all of these reductions on their utility bills.
With the advent of new rates, optional rates, special class rates, surcharges, taxes, deregulation, downsizing, outsourcing and smart meters, the utility companies are quick to point out that they are servicing thousands of customers and it is physically impossible for them to police your bills for you. Therefore, your utility bills contain mistakes….
Despite these mistakes, utility companies take the position that it is the customer’s responsibility to become aware of reductions and apply for them, and to discover mistakes and correct them.Many people ask why a utility audit is necessary when utility bills are controlled by governmental and state agencies and, therefore, there should be no need for checking into exactly what they are being charged for and if the charges are correct.
Let’s take a took at what these state and governmental agencies do as far as protecting you, the consumer. Here are a few startling facts:
Does the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission monitor utility and telecommunication rate? NO! ! !
It is the contention of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that the individual state utilities commissions shall control the rates charged to residential, commercial and industrial consumers.This leaves the utility company to provide the customer with all of the available options and rates and to continually provide information to make the customer more aware of the rates designed for their usage.
HOWEVER! ! !
The utility companies state they cannot guarantee that the customer will be served under the most favorable applicable rate schedule!
This leads us to believe that the state commerce commission takes on the responsibility to insure that the individual consumer is on the best rate possible, or that it is the responsibility of the utility company to provide to the customer all of the available options and rates available and to continually provide information to make the customer more aware of the rates designed for their particular usage.
The states commerce commissions state that the choice of the selection of rates is left to the customer!
In actuality, what we are saying is this: 1) there could be errors on your utility bills that only you will notice and correct, and 2) when you first opened your residential utility accounts, the needs that were required by you at that time and the needs that are required by you presently may be completely different! There may be utility rates that apply to your present usage that were not in effect at the time that you originally contracted service with your utility provider, or your utility usage or utility consumption patterns may have changed and could now possibly put you into a rate classification that would allow you to purchase your utility services in a more economical manner.
So far in 2015 there have been over 12,500 rate increases in the United States, some as high as 85% for water, 80% for electricity, 76% for wastewater, 54% for heating oil and 42% for propane. This is the reason that the majority of people conserve, like they are asked to do by their utility providers, yet continue to see their utility bills increase. This is also the reason that the majority of people do not change their utility consumption from year to year, yet continue to see their utility bills increase.
Long-term forecasts predict continued shortages and rising costs, so keeping up to date on rate changes and making sure that you are only paying for your fair share of utility expenses is critical. The only way to be certain that you are not losing money each month in the face of these unmanageable ever-increasing costs is to have a professional utility audit!