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Belco tackling issue of long billing months | The Royal Gazette:Bermuda Business

Scott Neil, Assistant Business Editor

Published Aug 30, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 29, 2019 at 9:16 pm)

Energy charge: Belco’s monthly meter readings can fluctuate in the number of days covered, and in some instances those additional days may tip a customer deeper into a higher rate tier (File photograph)

Energy charge: Belco’s monthly meter readings can fluctuate in the number of days covered, and in some instances those additional days may tip a customer deeper into a higher rate tier (File photograph)

Charge fluctuates: an example of how a customer’s monthly Belco bill can change depending on whether the billing cycle covers 28 days or 30 days (Details provided by Belco)

Charge fluctuates: an example of how a customer’s monthly Belco bill can change depending on whether the billing cycle covers 28 days or 30 days (Details provided by Belco)

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You’re not seeing things when your monthly Belco bill charges for more than a month’s worth of usage.

In some instances, those additional days can tip a customer deeper into a higher rate tier.

Belco is in the process of installing meters fitted with a small computer chip and radio that transmit information about a customer’s electricity usage to the company. This will overcome the problem of monthly readings exceeding 30 or 31 days.

As an example of the problem currently encountered, a resident found their bill jumped significantly from June to July even though their energy consumption barely altered, with one month’s bill covering fewer days than the next.

When they queried this with Belco, they were told “excess days” had been charged at the top kilowatt hour rate.

However, when contacted by The Royal Gazette, a Belco spokesman said there is no “excess days” charge applied to monthly bills.

He explained that while the company endeavours to keep the monthly meter-reading cycle to approximately 30 days, sometimes the period is extended by a few days. This happens as a result of delays, such as public holidays when meter readers are not out-and-about gathering readings.

“Belco’s billing cycles are determined by meter reading cycles. The company’s meter readers start in the eastern end of the island at the beginning of each month and work their way westward, finishing in Dockyard at the end of the month,” the spokesman said.

“Normal meter reading cycles are between 25 and 35 days, however every effort is made to complete reading cycles of approximately 30 days.”

He said that between March and the end of September there are “significant challenges” in the meter reading cycle due to public holidays and staff vacations.

“Meter readers work Monday through Friday, and on occasion, may work on Saturdays in an effort to balance out any challenges presented by the public holiday schedule. This means that some reading cycles are shorter and others are longer based on when routes are read.”

He gave an example of what can occur to a customer who uses 20 kWh per day.

• If the monthly bill covers 28 days they would pay a total of $233.39, inclusive of additional charges and fees. The first 250 kWh of energy cost 15.75 cents per kWh, and the remaining 310 kWh is charged at 24 cents per kWh.

• If the monthly bill covers 30 days they would end up paying for an additional 40 kWhs (two days usage) at the 24 cents per kWh rate. This, together with incremental increases to the fuel adjustment and Regulatory Authority fee in relation to the higher usage, would result in a bill of $248.68.

Belco’s energy charges are split into tiers: the first 250 kWhs at 15.75 cents per kWh, the next 450 kWhs at 24 cents per kWh, and the remaining kWhs at 33.62 cents per kWh.

The spokesman pointed out that during the months of July and August energy usage tends to increase as air conditioning units work harder to cool rooms compared to the months either side.

He added: “We are currently in the midst of an AMI meter deployment programme which will facilitate remote readings of our meters.

“Once full deployment has been achieved, Belco will be able to offer different reading cycles which will not require movement of our meter readers from one end of the island to the other.”

• Residents can learn more about AMI meters and how they can monitor and manage their energy usage at www.yourenergyfuture.bm

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