Although FELPS did have a change in the structure of rates that was effective in January 2018, the bottom line on the bill did not change. Previously, $0.05 per kWh was billed in the distribution charge (formerly energy charge). For residential customers, the charge decreased from $0.073700 per kWh to $0.023700. The $0.05 was moved to the generation and transmission charge (formerly PCRF). The generation and transmission charge increased from $0.029500 to $0.079500. The change was made for better clarity and to reduce confusion about what customers pay to FELPS and what is passed through to other entities to pay for generation and transmission. The distribution charge is the part that FELPS keeps and uses to operate. The generation and transmission charge is billed and then paid to other entities for the cost to generate electricity and use of the transmission grid. All utilities pay for the transmission charges. These changes did not affect the bottom line of your bill.
What did make the bills increase so drastically? Unfortunately, the answer is one we can’t control, i.e., the weather. Our area has not experienced this length of cold weather in many years. Not only has the duration been longer than normal, the temperatures have remained lower. We experienced snow, in some areas twice. We had snowfall on December 7th and again in January. We also experienced ice on January 16th and 17th that closed or delayed many schools and businesses. On top of the cold, December included many holidays. Also contributing to the higher usage may have been the kids being out of school, cooking, celebrations, heat lamps for animals, Christmas lights and decorations, including outdoor inflatables. The normal setting for heating is 68 degrees. The higher you set your thermostat, the more electricity you use. For instance, if you set the thermostat at 69 degrees it will be 5% more, 70 degrees is 9% more, 71 degrees is 13% more and so on. If you didn’t change your thermostat and kept it the same as in the prior years, the lower temperatures mean your heater had to work more to compensate for the difference. For example, if you set your thermostat at 68 degrees and the temperature outside was 40 degrees, the heater is making up a 28 degree difference. Hot water heaters in the attic or in a cold environment must work that much more to keep the water hot and ready. Lastly, review the number of days for your billing cycle. It is more than likely there were more days in the billing cycle than in the previous month, leading to more usage billed. February’s weather hasn’t been much different and the high bills will most likely continue at least one more month.
What do I do if I think there is something wrong with the meter or the meter reading? We have had many customers call and request their meter be reread and/or tested. We haven’t had one reading or meter come back as incorrect. If you have a remote read meter, it is a read transmitted to the reading device and can only be incorrect if the meter malfunctions. Even if the screen goes blank, the read will still be transmitted. You may want to read your own meter. If you have a dial meter and are unsure on how to read it, you can take a picture and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. A customer service representative will call you back and walk you through reading it.
What can I do to conserve energy? Check for leaky doors and windows. Fix or cover any that you can feel the cold air seeping through. Keep your water heater thermostat set at 120 degrees or turn the control on the pilot to lowest setting when away for several days. Take a quick shower, use warm or cold water when washing clothes and run the dishwasher with a full load only. Other energy saving tips include limiting the dryer time per load. If your dryer doesn’t have a moisture sensor, check it periodically for dryness. Lower your thermostat when you aren’t home or are away for longer periods of time. We include energy saving tips in each of our newsletters, the Current. The most recent and previous newsletters can be found by clicking on the “Customers” tab and scrolling to the bottom.
We understand this is a frustrating time and it is difficult to understand the difference in usage, when you are doing the same things in your home as in the past. If you still have questions or concerns, please call customer service at (830) 216-7000 sub-option 1 and a representative would be glad to speak with you about your specific bill.