Some customers have recently expressed concern their new AMI meter has something to do with their higher bills received in August. AMI meters are not the cause for higher August bills.
Warmer temperatures in July and August contributed to higher bills, as they do nearly every summer. This year we had spring-like weather through mid-July, which meant many customers received bills for that period that were lower than normal. The rapid onset of hotter than normal temperatures in the second half of July resulted in much higher bills, especially for customers whose billing cycle started when the weather warmed up. For example, bills that generated on July 12 covered a billing period from June 11 through July 10 and included eight days of 90+ degree heat. Bills that generated only one week later, on July 19, covered a billing period from June 18 to July 17 and nearly doubled the number of 90+ degree days at 15.
According to the National Weather Service, the Denver area saw 20 days of 90 or more degrees in July and 18 in August, compared to only five in June. August 2019 was the third-warmest August in Denver weather history. Electricity usage system-wide was consistent with this weather. This situation was compounded by the fact that billing periods in July and August were longer than in June for most customers.
We have been installing AMI meters for several months, and have only recently had an influx of high bill concerns, which is typical for this time of year regardless of the type of meter a customer has. About 7,000 customers had AMI meters by the end of May, and many had decreased usage in June compared to June 2018, as should be expected due to milder June weather this year. A large majority of our customers received higher bills in August regardless of the type of meter they had: More than 80% of IREA customers did not have an AMI meter at the end of August; however, nearly 84% of our customers saw an increase in their August usage over July usage.
The bottom line is that high temperatures and longer billing cycles are the key contributors to higher energy bills, not new meters. We encourage you to understand your long-term energy usage, past temperature patterns, and the days in your billing cycle before jumping to conclusions about meters. The meters deliver the energy use message, and do so accurately; they should not be blamed for the message.
If you have concerns about your energy usage, consider a free home energy audit. Our specialist can evaluate your home’s energy efficiency and provide recommendations on how to improve it. Visit www.IREA.coop/energy-audits to schedule an audit. You also can measure the energy usage of your appliances with a Kill A Watt meter. For more information, see the Kill A Watt article in this issue. A customer portal will be available soon for customers with AMI meters, and will allow for increased visibility into energy usage. Read ‘Get ready for My Power’ for more info.
Although our AMI meters are safe, secure and accurate, we recognize some customers oppose them. We have approved an AMI opt-out rate rider that allows eligible residential customers to opt out of an AMI meter upon payment of charges to cover some of the costs incurred for IREA to manually read meters, set up alternative billing, and maintain a less efficient system. Those charges include a one-time fee of $80 to set up a non-standard meter, and a recurring fee of $20 per month. Refer to our Rates and Regulations for AMI opt-out eligibility requirements.