Understanding an Electricity Bill

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  #1  
Old 01-10-11, 06:39 AM
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Understanding an Electricity Bill

Our Church just purchased a restaurant building and is in the process of converting it for use as a church. We got out first electricity bill and have several questions on the bill. I am posting a copy of the bill along with a picture of the actual electric meter. I would like your help in understanding this bill.

Here are some facts that would provide a good picture of the situation

A. The restaurant has a 800 amp service connection (3 phase) and has a minimum 100KW charge. They had a lot of refrigeration equipment including three walk-in freezers and other food service equipment that was not included in the sale.

B. The Church will only have service once a week and our electricity requirement will be primarily light load and possibly air conditioners in the summer. Heating is hot air (furnace). There are about 6 sodium vapor lamps to light the parking lot. They are turned for about 1 hour every day.

The questions that I have is related to the electric bill

1. The minimum 100 KW Charge (marked A) - Is that something that we can demand the utility company change. I spoke to the Utility company and the response was that the they will review the usage later and will make adjustments. Since the prior use and current use is so different, I am not sure why they have to wait to make a change here.

2. We have only used the building for about 10 days during the 30 days and the electricity component is what really scared us. it is $1082. Usage was primarily lighting load when we were doing the cleaning up during those 10 days.

3. In the electricity section, I see two items - Demand and Energy. For 30 days, we have used 19.2 KW (Demand) and 2160 KWH (Energy). What do these numbers mean? The 2160KWH looks extremely high considering our usage pattern

4. What is the Meter Multiplier? (Marked D and E)

5. Our church has Sales Tax Exemption from New York State. Will that help us get a sales tax exemption for our utility bill?

6. The meter reading on the bill and the actual meter appear to be very different. How do you read the meter? Sorry that I am not very technical.

7. Is it worthwhile to change the 800 amp connection to say a 200 amp connection? Will that help reduce the minimum KWH charge of $615?. To change it 200 amp connection what is involved? Physically replace the service cables coming into the building?

8. If we were to install solar panels, will Churches qualify for state rebates for installing solar electric panels?

DIY pictures by GEEVEE101 - Photobucket
 

Last edited by GEEVEE; 01-10-11 at 06:44 AM. Reason: Formating Issues
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  #2  
Old 01-10-11, 08:04 AM
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Power Bill

Investigate the contractual obligations between the power company and the former owner of the building. Also determine your current and future power needs. The charges are based somewhat on the additional equipment required to service the building; perhaps some of this could be removed if the contract terms will allow.
 
  #3  
Old 01-10-11, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by GEEVEE View Post
...a minimum 100KW charge...
This the main component of your bill -- $615. Hopefully you can renegotiate the contract given that the building has vastly different requirements as a church.

I am not sure why they have to wait to make a change here.
The prior contract may have included some cost recovery. For example the power company paid for part of a service upgrade for the restaurant in exchange for a minimum service fee for some years or something like that. I'm sure they will need to review if the contract goes with the building or with the prior business.

For 30 days, we have used 19.2 KW (Demand) and 2160 KWH (Energy). What do these numbers mean? The 2160KWH looks extremely high considering our usage pattern
The demand number is your peak usage point for the month, and the energy number is your total usage for the month. I don't think that 2160 kwh would be extremely high. A single family home might use about half that in a month, so a larger building with parking lot lighting would be reasonable in that range.

4. What is the Meter Multiplier? (Marked D and E)
That converts the numbers on your meter into actual billable units (kw and kwh).

5. Our church has Sales Tax Exemption from New York State. Will that help us get a sales tax exemption for our utility bill?
Yes it should if you contact a commercial account manager at the power company.

6. The meter reading on the bill and the actual meter appear to be very different. How do you read the meter? Sorry that I am not very technical.
You read the dials left-to-right, wait a couple days, and read them again. Subtract the first reading from the second and multiply the difference by 120. That gives you the energy used in the time between the two readings in kwh (kilowatt-hours). In your picture the meter currently reads "13933". If a few days later it read "13943", you would do:

13943 - 13933 = 10
10 * 120 = 1200 kwh

7. Is it worthwhile to change the 800 amp connection to say a 200 amp connection?
Not unless the power company required it. The service itself does not use any energy, only the appliances and lights you connect to it. The only way it might help would be if the power company had a blanket policy like "all 800A services have a minimum $600/mo. charge" and they won't budge on the rule.

8. If we were to install solar panels, will Churches qualify for state rebates for installing solar electric panels?
You'd have to meet with a solar contractor in your state. Solar (even with rebates) is outlandishly expensive, so I doubt that's an option in this case anyway.
 
  #4  
Old 01-10-11, 09:13 AM
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Is the furnace gas or electric? Is gas cheaper then electric in your area? Is the furnace and AC 3 phase? Does your electric company charge more for 3 phase service? Have you contacted the state utility commission? Have you talked with other churches in your area with similar size buildings and use patterns.?
 
  #5  
Old 01-10-11, 05:18 PM
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.... and a church is classified like a business in that they pay a higher rate per KW than a residence does - so the church would always pay a higher rate than you would at home. At least that's how it works in my neck of the woods.

I agree that your 1st stop should be at the power company to discuss what can be done to lower the bill.
 
  #6  
Old 01-11-11, 08:25 PM
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Here is a link to the official "tariff", which is the actual rate info used for your schedule of charges.

Yours is Service Classification # 3.

http://www.oru.com/documents/tariffs...ectricSC03.pdf

There are two interesting notes mentioned in the schedule.

"Customer must maintain a minimum of 100 kW for at least two consecutive months during the previous 12 months to be eligible for service hereunder. Customers who do not maintain said minimum shall be transferred to Service Classification No. 2 and shall not be eligible for service hereunder for one year and until 100 kW demand has been maintained for two consecutive months."


and "Service is terminable at any time after one year upon ninety days written notice. The Company reserves the right to require a longer initial term where special construction is required to furnish the service."

This service rate schedule appears to be based on an expected electricity useage that is much higher that you expect. (It would have been better for the restaurant, because it ends up being cheaper overall costs due to the higher useage) and you would be better off with Service Classification #2, which is here: http://www.oru.com/documents/tariffs...ectricSC02.pdf

It appears as though the electric company would have automatically moved you back to the cheaper #2 after 12 months of the much lower use that you have. But it seems you might be able to get the cheaper rate schedule with 90 days notice, as long as there is no cost recovery issue remaining from the installation of the original service as previously mentioned.

In any case, the electric company should be able to tell you if there is a "longer initial term" applicable to the electric service, if you would be better off with a different schedule, and what it takes to get you there.

Good luck, and PLEASE let us know how you make out.
 
  #7  
Old 01-11-11, 09:31 PM
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"Demand" is a separate line item because it's billed at a higher rate. It's necessary in high-usage situations during peak times.

My former business was threatened with a "Demand Meter" after a month of heavy use during some video shoots in the studio. The studio lighting made the meter spin so fast we thought it was going to go airborne.

We met with the utility account rep and worked out a deal.

Your building's usage has probably dropped significantly since it was a full-time restaurant. Call your account rep.
 
  #8  
Old 01-12-11, 08:04 AM
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Discussions with the Electric Company

All of you have provided very valuable information. I did not know that each account had an account Rep. We were just calling the toll free customer service number and each person/rep we were talking to was giving a different story. Any way, the last rep told us that if we provide evidence of tax exemption from NYS, she will put us in a different tier. I have applied with the NYS to get the exemption. If this was mentioned on the first call, we would have acted on it right away rather than waste time making calls after calls.

The restuarant was in existence for 10 years before it closed down. Hence, I really don't think there is any cost recovery involved. Prior to our purchase of the building, the restuarant did not even electric service for almost 12 months because the previous owners did not pay their bills on time. Hence we had to pay a $9000 deposit to restore connections in our name. I am hoping that once the exemption is recevied from NYS, I can get back some of that deposit amount.

We are not using electricity for space heating purposes.

GV

 
  #9  
Old 01-12-11, 08:40 AM
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Sometimes a service is upgraded and that will start a recovery process but normally it's at the new construction stage.

I don't know how it works in a big town but here, we can go to the power company office and ask to speak to a rep in the back about our power bill or needs. I'd much rather talk to someone in person [and be able to contact them again, directly, if needed] than talk to someone in the customer service dept.... if that's an option.
 
  #10  
Old 01-12-11, 06:10 PM
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The restuarant was in existence for 10 years before it closed down. Hence, I really don't think there is any cost recovery involved. Prior to our purchase of the building, the restuarant did not even electric service for almost 12 months because the previous owners did not pay their bills on time. Hence we had to pay a $9000 deposit to restore connections in our name. I am hoping that once the exemption is recevied from NYS, I can get back some of that deposit amount.
Cost recovery, if there is any, is a contract with the owner and typically isn't carried to the next owner, but settled with the customer who made the agreement sometimes in a lump sum when that customer sells the property, but that can be different depending on the PSC in your state. That being said, there is no reason whatsoever for you to pay a high deposit based upon a previous customer's bad payment history. Again, this may be based upon previous PSC decisions and regulations in your state, but it's definitely not fair. I think you should try to get back 100% of your deposit if your church has a good payment history with the utility.
 
  #11  
Old 01-13-11, 03:01 AM
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Cost recovery methods do vary! When I bought my current home the service was about 1 yr old with a 5 yr recovery minimum fee. After I bought the property the electric was cut off and not turned back on for about 10 months. The recovery fee then picked back up for the remaining time [4yr]. I was unaware of any of this until after the fact.

Locally, it's my understanding that the power company usually charges about double the deposit for service at a location with a history of bad payers.... unless the new customer already has a good track record with them.
 
  #12  
Old 01-13-11, 04:08 AM
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Originally Posted by CasualJoe View Post
there is no reason whatsoever for you to pay a high deposit based upon a previous customer's bad payment history.
Welcome to New York. I think one of the reasons they charge the new owners for past problems at the address is because people would sell the building to "arm's length" relatives or partners.
 
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