Posts

Why Utility Audits Make Sense

Utility Bill Audit

Who likes getting unexpected discounts when shopping, finding money in the street, or getting a tax refund in the mail? If you answered “I do!” to any of these, then read on!

In the most basic terms—Utility Data Audits are done to make sure you’re being charged the absolute minimum price for your utilities. They are the first step to data optimization! Unfortunately, most of the population doesn’t know much about their Utility Bills— is all of the data correct? Does it contain billing errors? Is the bill too high? Are you missing out on credits or savings? These Utility Data Audits will answer those questions for you. On a small scale, people could be overcharged and never notice it. But even if it’s just a dollar every month, it eventually adds up over time. This is especially true for those who use large quantities of Utilities, such as Hospitals, Large Corporations, Universities, or Apartment buildings— a Utility Data Audit is mission critical, and can produce hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings.

Although it seems like this kind of thing could be done in house, it’s extremely complex and requires thorough knowledge on local tariffs and regulations, as well as some really in-depth equations. To get your absolute maximum savings, you can just leave it to the experts! Most people you ask in the industry will tell you, contingency based audits are always best, because if no money is found, then nothing comes out of your pocket. That’s why even if you do handle your own audits, there’s no reason not to have someone double checking for anything that was missed!

In addition to just finding money that you’ve overpaid in the past, Utility Data Audits are also a great way to identify operational inefficiencies—even if you’ve already implemented energy efficiency projects— these audits can tell you if they are truly delivering the anticipated results. The data that is collected holds the key to determining the true value actually being created.

So to sum it up, Utility Data Audits truly do make a lot of sense. It’s important to know where your hard earned money is going. This is an inescapable expense for all, it’s time to learn how to generate value from it!

Utility Rate Hikes: No-Win Scenario for NY Ratepayers

Rate Hikes

As New Yorkers pay the highest average electric rates in the continental United States, it is important to understand what goes into a rate hike.  Once investor-owned utilities have a rate increase approved, not only do they charge the consumers that higher rate, but also take the cost for representing themselves to get the increase approved and pass that through to the consumer as well.

A proposed rate increase is brought forth and approved by the Public Service Commission (PSC).  According to a new AARP report, it states “Essentially, ratepayers are paying to propose and defend increases in their own rates.  In contrast, ratepayers have little to no representation at the PSC during rate proceedings, even though the ratepayers are paying the legal bills of the party who is trying to raise their rates”.

There are 40 states in the United States, plus the District of Columbia, that have a utility consumer advocate office to represent the consumers in state and federal utility regulatory commission proceedings.  These offices are charged with taking legal positions opposing the utilities and their regulators, and seek judicial review.  There is no such office in the state of New York to fight rate increases on behalf of ratepayers or to appeal a rate increase in court.  In-turn, it should be no surprise that New York rates are 56 percent above the national average and second costliest in the nation – only second to Hawaii.

The AARP examined the electric rate savings for customers that have independent utility consumer advocate offices and found that the savings from such offices far exceeded the cost for their operations.  Here are some of their findings:

  • Connecticut reported approximately $730 million in savings on a $3 million budget – a 243-1 ROI.
  • Illinois reported approximately $300 million in savings on a $2.6 million budget – a 115-1 ROI.
  • Maryland reported approximately $114 million in savings on a $3.2 million budget – a 36-1 ROI.
  • Main reported approximately $24 million in savings on a $1.7 million budget – a 14-1 ROI.
  • Ohio reported approximately $107 million in savings on a $5.1 million budget – a 21-1 ROI.
  • Pennsylvania reported approximately $500 million in savings on a $5.1 million budget – a 98-1 ROI.

It is evident that when utilities push for a rate increase, ratepayers need to be able to push back.  An independent utility consumer advocate office in New York to advocate and participate fully in cases before the PSC would allow ratepayers a voice when it comes to their higher charges and the costs to utility providers that are being passed through to them.

What are Common Utility Bill Errors?

Utility Bill

Utility bills aren’t pretty – and it can be quite an undertaking to identify billing discrepancies and issues without professional help.  In our experience, as a utility bill auditing firm, we see very frequently that individuals and companies do not see this process as mission critical to their business.  However, billing issues are more frequent than one thinks, and can amount to significant monetary loss.  Here are just a few:

1. For businesses’s that switch providers in a deregulated market, it is important to ensure all relevant account information, lie tax exemptions, are carried over and that the new contract starts when the older one expires – with no overlap.

2.  An error in a rate assignment could add up to substantial lost money over time.

3. Meter misreads and clerical errors are common sources of overcharges.

4. Invoice issues, such as billing period overlaps, duplicate charges, and/or credits not being issued.

5. One may be charged on incorrect rates, or there may be more beneficial rates available.

Reviewing your utility bills for inconsistencies can be very profitable, however they can be complex and hard to decipher.  Forensic utility bill auditing firms can be a truly beneficial resource in finding issues not typically seen by the naked eye.  In fact, it is possible to go back and analyze historical data up to 6 years to identify current AND past billing issues.  Customized algorithms allow auditing firms to dive deep into data to locate discrepancies others almost always miss and can even flag potential future issues.

For more information on the importance of a utility bill audit or how UtiliSave can help – visit our website at www.utilisave.com or call one of our industry experts at (718) 382-4500.