Meters unread

I’m going with the notion that no other explanation is needed:

Everywhere I’ve lived, paying the power bill was a relatively simple affair. You get a bill that included the amount of power you used in the previous month with a per-kilowatt charge and some basic flat monthly fee.

Here, however, they do not read the power meter every month. Instead, it’s every other month with some sort of estimate. These estimates tend to be wildly, wildly off. The end result of which is that our power bill ranges from one month to the next wildly. By a factor of two, in the most recent case. From $169 to $345. In this case, the estimate for February was low but in fact, the usage was abnormally high due to the weather. The end result was a low bill followed by a large bill.

Hmmm. Is this a private utility company, or a municipal power plant?

If they can’t actually send somebody to read the meter every month, they could do a lot worse than just saying $210 every month. Theoretically, they should have access to data that can more accurately guess how much we’re actually using. I assume that every month they’re reading houses, it’s just that they can only read half of them in any given month.

This is one of the better arguments for the so-called smart meter, which presumably can report in with its own reading when called upon. Both the electric and gas companies have installed them on my connections; I don’t think the city has, but then I haven’t opened up the meter, buried in the front yard, since about three plumbing repairs ago.


  1. Nicole »

    23 March 2014 · 6:42 pm

    Another up side to a level pay program. I am not sure if ours is read by S-M-R-T meter or not but our bill is always the same.

  2. CGHill »

    23 March 2014 · 7:23 pm

    I probably should do that one of these days. On the other hand, when the electric bill is high (summer), the gas bill is low; and when the gas bill is high, the electric bill is not so high. So maybe I’m getting the effect of it without actually doing it.

  3. Patrick »

    23 March 2014 · 7:57 pm

    My local power company offers a form of installment billing that lets you budget the average of 12 months’ worth of bills. I don’t use that, but I know people who love it.

    All power companies ought to be able to have that technology.

  4. McGehee »

    24 March 2014 · 8:45 am

    Our co-op offers “levelized” billing, so even if the meter were missed one month they’d have a near-average estimate to bill, and the next reading could simply be weighted as accounting for two months’ usage.

    I also suspect the tire tracks in our field may be from either the water authority or power co-op meter reader getting in range to read the meter remotely and not bothering to back out on our paved driveway. I’m not sure these remote readers have the range to read our meter from that far away though.

  5. McGehee »

    24 March 2014 · 8:47 am

    I’m not sure these remote readers have the range to read ourelectric meter from that far away. The water meter is practically right at the road though; they should be able to read that one on a drive-by.

  6. Lynn »

    24 March 2014 · 9:47 am

    When we first moved here in the mid-90’s we actually had to read our own electric and water meters. The electric co-op was the first to install smart meters, then just a couple of years ago the water district finally installed them. They reported in their newsletter that after installing the new meters on time bill payments increased by 75%.

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