Reading the utility bill can be comparable to finding Where’s Waldo. You open the page, and standing there in bold font.. is the amount owing (Waldo). Ok, so more like a beginners game of Where’s Waldo. But have you ever ventured past the amount owing section of your utility bill? If you have, you know what dread and bewilderment feel like. Most people are so overwhelmed, they rarely come to even a basic understanding of the utility bill.
Follow this link for a brief video from the Utilities Consumer Adocate on understanding your bill: https://ucahelps.alberta.ca/understanding-your-bill.aspx
You, yes you, can learn how to read a bill and understand it! Lets get started:
The Government of Alberta requires the following information on every utility bill. If you may find it helpful to open up one of your bills and follow along.
FRONT PAGE – Name and contact information of energy retailer, amount owing, when payment is due, summary of new charges and recent payments, optionally there’s a graph showing 12 months usage history.
Name and Contact information of the energy retailer. This is important especially if there is an emergency such as a gas leak or a power outage. It’s also important for notifying the retailer of a move or change of status.
Amount Owing and Payment Due Date. You are an expert at this one!
Summary of New Charges and Recent Payment transactions. This is an extension of the amount owing total. It confirms the retailer received your previous payment and divides the total amount into electricity, gas, fees and GST. It also repeats the date late fees will be applied.
Graph showing your electricity consumption over the past 12 months. Summer energy consumption is typically much less than our cold Alberta winters.
BACK PAGE – The detailed breakdown of the charges. Including the meter reading, energy charges and fees, gas charges and fees.
Meter Readings at the beginning of the billing cycle and the end of the billing cycle, showing the total amount of energy used. Electricity is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) and Gas is measured in Giga Joules (GJ). For example, electricity meter reading: 15430.555 kWh at the beginning of the month – 15980.655 kWh at the end of the month = 550.100 kWh.
Rates include the charge to buy the electricity or gas from the retailer. Take this cost and multiply it by the meter reading. For example, electricity charge: 550.100 kWh x $0.08/kWh = $44.008.
Fees are the costs to administer the product to the home or business. These are the most confusing part of the bill. It takes a lot to get power and gas into a home. The fees include Transmission and Distribution charges: https://ucahelps.alberta.ca/electricity-transmission-and-distribution-charges.aspx
- Transmissioncharges are fees which include installing, operating, and maintaining the of gas infrastructure and electrical grid.
- Distributioncharges constitute between 23% and 52% of a customer’s total bill*. These include administration staff to look after you the customer, rate rider charges, land use fees, and carbon tax levies. A brief breakdown of rate riders, local acess, and carbon levy fees are listed below:
- Rate Ridersare the difference between what the utility costs were projected to be and what they actually turned out to be. This rider accounts for the ups and downs of the gas and electricity costs throughout the month. Sometimes the utilities turn out to be cheaper than expected and sometimes more. This rate rider accounts for that.
- Local Access Feespay for the use of the land the utility lines occupy in the province.
iii. Carbon Levy is only charged on the gas portion as part of the provincial carbon tax.
This concludes the tour of your energy bill.
For more information, go to the link posted earlier in this post.*