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Power company punishes me for conservation

Post in 'The Green Room' started by Highbeam, Jul 23, 2013.

  1. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    8,800
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    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
    Funny thing happened this last billing period. In May I called to gripe about my 1000+ kwh power bill that occurs every month in my 1700SF home with no heating. I was asking for advice and about programs. Well, the next day I had to reset my clocks since the power had blinked out. I then noticed that I got a brand new digital power meter on the house. Cool, easy to read and I marked the date.

    Over the next few days I replaced an old fridge with an estar model, swapped out lights to LED, shut off my energy hog hot tub, and installed a whole house power monitor that logs consumption and instant current flow. My power consumption dropped from 33 per day to 23 as read on my meter and double checked with the whole house monitor.

    The power company freaked out. Thought something must be broken and instead of using the readings from the new meter they just applied my consumption from the previous month after thinking about it for an extra three weeks. The overcharge is only about 30$. I wonder what will happen next month when they see the same low consumption.

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  2. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Northern Virginia
    I noticed the meter was broken a few years ago. Called and reported it. At some point the next day power went off and came back on twice. I went out and the guy was leaving and we had a new meter. And a blown out $800 UPS unit from the surges. According to them it couldn't possibly have been their fault. And I got an estimated bill for triple our usual monthly usage for the next month. I now have daily logging of usage to shove up their poop shoot next time.

    At least they have stopped coming out every couple of years and walking around my wood stacks to change the meter like they did for years and years.
  3. blades

    blades Minister of Fire

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    WI, Milw
    Yep, same thing here never responsible for power surges destroying equipment. They were out about 4 times last year trying to figure out how I am " cheating them", got a warning letter to that effect as well. Sent one back warning them of defamation of character. Seems its ok for them to jack the price every quarter and charge me for dead beats ect. but heaven help ya if you go and cut your use by a large %. Phone co. ain't any better either.
    gregbesia likes this.
  4. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
    After two hours on the phone with the power company, it turns out they were able to declare that my old meter had died. Died at the exact same time I called them and then I got the new meter. They guessed on my consumption since my old meter must have not been logging the consumption to have read so low. In other words, the reduced consumption must be from a broken meter and not from conservation.

    Quite fishy.
  5. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Northern Virginia
    Since we are in a co-op and the CEO loves to refer to member owners only when he is sticking it to us for something then instead of calling the customer service number I call him. The freakin co-op is larger than most of the public owned electric companies in the country now.

    He hates it but usually something happens pretty fast. >>
  6. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Sand Lake, NY
    Or, perhaps the old meter read high. :
  7. sloeffle

    sloeffle Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2012
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    Loc:
    Morrow County, Ohio
    Which whole house power monitor do you have ? And do you like it ?

    Scott
  8. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
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    1,563
    Loc:
    Northern NH
    Yup dealing with the power company is a PITA. In most areas there is Public Utilities Commission and a threat to write a letter to the PUC sometimes does wonders. Don't call, write, they have to keep written complaints on file and in theory they are reviewed by the PUC when the utility goes for rate hike. I think I have been flagged for possible power theft when both my solar systems went on line (and expect I will be again when the new system turns on).

    If you dont already have one, a whole house surge suppresser is highly recommended. I recommend this one http://www.midnitesolar.com/products.php?menuItem=products&productCat_ID=23&productCatName=Surge Protection Devices as their clamp voltage is low enough that most electronics will survive. Some of the prior suppressors clamp at over a 1000 volts so if there is a hit, even if it works, you may still get damage. I lost an inverter last year due to a utility issue and my existing while house unit didn't save it. (or course who knows what else it may have actually saved). I also like the unit as its made in the US.
    woodgeek and Wildo like this.
  9. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
    I bought the efergy elite model. It works great and as I recall was only like 130$. This meter samples every so many seconds and is able to pick up loads to the watt. I know when the fridge door is opened by the 30 watt load that appears on the display.

    Did you know that GFCI outlets each burn about 6 watts all the time? I would not have known this without being able to isolate the loads using the monitor. This is the case with the leviton GFCI outlets in my shop.

    All the modems and other vampire loads make up 150 watts of standby loss in my home.
  10. Como

    Como Minister of Fire

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    Colorado
    I chopped the phone last year, now use VOIP (Ooma) can not see how the TelCo's will survive charging their outlandish prices.
  11. gregbesia

    gregbesia Burning Hunk

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    Jan 26, 2009
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    Loc:
    central CT
    I also fired my telephone company. I'm using Obi 110 with Google voice. Simply love it. No monthly charges unless you call over seas.
  12. blades

    blades Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    1,466
    Loc:
    WI, Milw
    Havent had a land line at home for almost 13 years now.
    PSC around here pretty much rubber stamps anything the utility co. wants. Just got my combined bill for last month, on NG side the add on charges were 3 times the cost of the gas used. The new HE washer has made a difference on the gas consumption about a penny a day. At that rate it will only take 191 years to recoup.
  13. charly

    charly Guest

    This the model you have?

    [​IMG]
    Efergy Elite Classic 3.0 Electricity Power Monitor
    Buy it now
    $98.99
    Free shipping
  14. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
  15. Mr A

    Mr A Minister of Fire

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    N. California
    Power company cheats, plain and simple. I was out of town for a month and shut down the main breaker. No juice at all being used and I was still billed the "estimated monthly usage" based on the usage for the same month a year prior.
  16. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Chittenden, VT
    That is only cheating when they don't read your meter at some point and calculate the actual usage. Our power company was reading the meter every two months and sometimes the estimates in the odd months were quite a bit off especially when we just had moved in. (The previous owners must have used A LOT MORE than we do.) Nevertheless, that was always corrected the next month by the actual amount used.
  17. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    South Puget Sound, WA
    The power company estimates to save money. Ask them to come out the next time and read the meter. You should have an adjustment coming.
  18. PapaDave

    PapaDave Minister of Fire

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    Northern MI - in the mitten
    Our co-op has us read the meter every month, and they check once every year in July to make sure all is well.
    It takes me little time and I input the info online every month on the 10th. I sometimes check every few days to see usage.
    We seem to be pretty thrifty, unless the air is running.>>
  19. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    Midwest
    Generally, power companies actually 'encourage' conservation. They would rather have 500,000 customers using 100kwh of power a month, and submitting their $30 customer fee rather than 50,000 customers using 1000kwh a month and their $30 customer fee. Same cost in power, but they would make an additional 1.5 million in customer fees.

    Maybe they are trying to apply some type of 'level pay system' where they charge you based on previous averages?

    Though it is fun to give the utility co a good freak out over the meter. When I moved into this place, the previous owner kept it about 80F on the gas heat and one of the registers had fallen out downstairs, so it had to heat up to about 90 to get the upstairs about 80. Her gas bill was about $350/month. I fixed up the furnace and moderated the heat which got the bill down to about $150. The next year I went to wood and the bill dropped to about $35. Several months later, a new gas meter showed up! That very same month I ran out of wood, ran the furnace and the bill was back up to $150. I think the gas company thought they struck gold! But the next year I was back on wood and the furnace hasn't run 10 times since then.
    f3cbboy likes this.
  20. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    I have my electric usage down to around 270kwh per month. I plan to buy a new fridge next year that should cut at least 30% of my usage. My current fridge has Montgomery Wards written on the handle. The kill-a-watt states that it uses around 90kwh a month. There are new guidelines for fridge energy use coming out next year. A few years ago I had electric water heating and clothes drying. I was running around 5-600kwh a month. Switching my house to natural gas was a huge savings. Maybe after I swap fridges I'll look into swapping the stove. It hurts to consider getting rid of a perfectly good stove, but electricity is 2.5 X more expensive than natural gas.
    PapaDave likes this.
  21. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    Amusing. No one reads meters here any more. They are all digital, and tracked via the electric grid (used as a network). I can also read the meter's digital display at any time. No issues here with billing, I can go from high to low use in any given month, or high to low, and that is what I get billed for. My hot tub is the most expensive appliance, followed by the hot water heater and refrigerator. I use about 500 kwhr per month in summer, 700 kwhr in winter. My only gripe is that I pay $10 a month just to be connected to PGE services. That is 20% of my electric bill.
  22. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    That is what happened. They went back and gave me a credit. Their excuse for the circle jerk was that they did the estimated bill to allow them time to do the math on the actual bill. Switching meters means a human has to do some data entry and since the bill must go out by a certain day they estimate simply since they don't have the data entry work done yet.

    My credit was substantial but is not intended to make up for years of a faulty meter potentially overbilling me.

    I don't feel that I was cheated, just jerked around.
  23. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    We have a package (phone, cable, internet) and when we asked about cutting the phone- it would only save like $2-3 a month! I like having internet, and the wife would freak without TV, so we're a bit stuck
  24. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Oh- and your TV box may be a real hog. I read that it may draw as much on standby as an efficient fridge uses, so I put it all on a power surge strip that gets shut off. It's unnerving that when I shut it down I hear some fan or some other hum stop. Makes ya think.
  25. bryan

    bryan New Member

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    Those DVR models definitely. They hummed all the time from the HD even when they were "off". We cut the TV last month and both have cells so all we have is internet. Netflix and a homemade OTA antenna did wonders.
    Highbeam likes this.

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