If your neighbors are reporting like problems, there are some
possibilities, but I don't think they would cause your problems with the
meters. They can cause over or under voltage. I suggest you and one or
more of your neighbors may want to monitor the voltage carefully. A common
time for the variation is when a nearby industrial plant or commercial
building is powering up or down.
Well, this won't explain your bill or anything, but if you have a 20%
reduction in the number of days with electricity, to get the monthly total
to come out the same you would need to use 25% more (not 20% more) each day
you do have electricity. Just a quirk of the math. (80% * 125% = 100%)
I think your meter is the wind-up kind. Every month when the meter "reader"
comes by, he sticks in a special key, winds up the meter, and it runs, like
an old-fashioned mantle clock.
The meter doesn't know that the power's off.
Along the way here, someone asked if the previous month had been
estimated. That is just as important as if the current month were
estimated, because if they estimated Nov on the low side, then it gets
added on when they do the next actual reading. If they added it to
Dec, then the usage is going to be higher. Also, along the same lines
of reasoning, what was the usage shown for Nov compared to the avg for
Nov? If it was below avg, that lends credence that somehow some Nov
demand is showing up in Dec.
Also, have you read the meter yourself to see how much you've used now
in Jan? I know they said they didn't estimate it in Dec, but if they
did estimate and it was higher than actual, that would show up now by
the current reading being lower than expected.
Another possibility might be that due to storms the meter readers were
unable to make their usual schedule. Perhaps they came a week later
than they should have and the date of the Dec reading wasn't correctly
reflected on the bill.
In any case, these bills are undoubtedly attributable to some
combination of estimate vs actual, meters being read for a diff number
of days this cycle, much colder weather, etc, not some strange
electrical phenomenon. I'd be very interested to hear the current
Frequency? No. The frequency of all utilities is controlled to the national
standard and is essentially atomic clock accurate over the long term. This is
necessary for utility intertie and power wheeling.
Voltage higher? Simple. Many causes. Your distribution spur could have been
overloaded and in the process of storm damage rebuilding, that overload was
Ther is now less voltage drop from the substation to you and thus your voltage is
higher. They could have upgraded the substation transformer feeding your spur.
voltage regulator (looks like a transformer but normally with only two power
attached) could have clicked to another tap automatically, have been reset
to boost voltage or have had its control box calibrated. The storm could have
the power transmission company to re-route power around other storm damage which
resulted in slightly higher voltage.
Without hard data, you'll be ignored or patted on the head and told to go away.
you want any attention from the utility then you'll have hard data at hand.
your meter every day for awhile and comparing it to your calculated "before
daily value would be one form of hard data.
Let's analyze the situation as I understand it.
You and a few neighbors live on a dead end primary (term refers to the high
distribution coming to your transformer) spur. Your power was cut by the storm
was off several days. Based on mostly anecdotal evidence, you all claim to have
higher bills. You have asked neighbors who did not lose power and their
responses were that their bills didn't go up. Presuming I got all that correct,
let's see what all you power losers :-) have in common.
You stated that you're on separate transformers so you don't have that in
ARE on the same primary spur. You all obviously have separate meters. You
DO have the same meter reader. And you obviously have the same utility company.
all suffered the same storm and were without power for the same time period.
To restate the commonalities,
same storm outage
Not a lot in common.
Being on the same primary spur leads me to consider higher voltage after the
restoration. Since you have no measurements, no way to know. A good clue would
if your voltage NOW is higher than 120.
That leaves the meter reader, the company and the storm itself.
It is vanishingly unlikely that the meter reader made near-identical reading
on all your meters. It is also unlikely that the meters were even read at all.
power outage that long tells me the utility was assholes'n'elbows during the
recovery. The meter readers, unless they are contractors, were likely working
recovery as ground and support crew. That's the way it works with my client
That leaves the company itself and the storm. Specifically for the company, a
probability of an estimated meter reading even if they don't normally do
Arguing against that is that your non-power-loss neighbors say their bills were
a little higher.
That pretty much leaves the storm itself and post-storm activities. We're back
the storm recovery usage that you're fighting so hard not to acknowledge.
An estimated reading error and storm recovery usage are mutually exclusive. If
reading was estimated then they could not know to bill for any storm recovery
If the extra usage IS from storm recovery activity then they had to have read the
In my mind it boils down to two potential but mutually exclusive causes,
the possibility of high voltage being a contributory factor. These are the only
possibilities that could roughly equally affect the power losers but not affect
If I were a betting man, I'd bet on an estimated reading. I'm intentionally
discounting what your non-power-losing neighbors said since memory for such
notoriously inaccurate. Perhaps even an estimated reading that was boosted to
the storm-induced extra consumption seen across the system. IOW, if the system
demand went up 10% because of the storm then perhaps they boosted your estimated
reading 10%. In any case, it'll all equal out upon the next reading.
The utility is in a no-win situation forced on them by customer ignorance and
"consumerism" (that putrid combination of entitlement and something for
one hand if they estimate low then the "consumer" is going to deluge them with
complaining about the subsequent "high" bill the next time the meter is read. if
they factor the estimation up based on system demand in an attempt to make the
estimate more nearly reflect reality then they get deluged with calls from
like you complaining about a "too high" bill.
I'm getting the feeling that you're not going to be satisfied in this thread
someone tells you "Yeah, those dirty bastards are stealing STEALING from you."
Here's what I suggest you do. Don't bother the utility until you get your next
month's bill. THEN do your math. If everything approximately evens out, you're
done. If you're not satisfied, first thing to do is call the utility and talk to
someone more senior than the receptionist and find out for sure whether they
or not, and whether the bill you just got was estimated.
In the meantime you can busy yourself by reading your meter daily. Maybe even
diary of what electrical-related activities goes on in your house each day.
of loads of laundry, amount of cooking, etc.
Here's what will happen if you make a big enough stink. The utility will come
and pull your meter, replacing it with a new one. Your old meter will be sent
meter shop for a calibration determination. In the very very very unlikely
meter is in error then your bill will be corrected. From experience with meter
shops, I can say that the occurrence of this is so rare that it usually
little chatter among the techs.
The overwhelming likelihood is that the meter will be in calibration. At that
you'll get a call or perhaps just a form letter stating that your meter was
and was in calibration and therefore your bill stands. This is all that they're
legally and IMO, morally obligated to do.
John De Armond
See my website for my current email address
http://www.johndearmond.com <-- best little blog on the net!
Tellico Plains, Occupied TN
What do you call 4 Blondes in an Abrams? Air Tank.
I have not been able to get a Google hit on a good explanation of
"storm recovery usage." Maybe you could enlighten me.
One example of how your usage can go up after a storm would be backed
up dirty clothes. Another would be to have to reheat your house and
hot water. < I guess you do need to heat hot water. :)
I can't see how any of this would cause your monthly bill to be any
There are, indeed, a couple of cases where "recovery" will cause
an increase in electrical cost.
a: if you've got an electrical heat pump that keeps
your place warm, it usually runs as a "reverse air
conditioner" and is reasonably efficient.
However, many also have a straight "resistance heater"
strip in them that gets called on for extreme conditions.
This costs a _lot_ more per BTU, so you generally don't
want it to kick in.
(most, not all, thermostats have a "lock out the strips"
button on them so they won't come on unless you really,
really, want them).
After a day or two of no heat, your home might be
down to 40 degrees, so when power comes back the
heat pump assembly _will_ turn on the strips.
b: if you're a larger customer (business, etc.) you're
generally paying a "peak usage charge" that gets pegged
at the highest demand you pull - even if it's only
for an hour one afternoon.
So if you've been powerless fo a day, all the refrigerators
will kick on at the same time, and all the air compressors
and pumps and lights and everything else... will _all_ turn
on for the first couple of hours after power is restored.
(Generally these things cycle a bit so they _won't_ all
be on. There is, in fact, a pretty well developed science
of "load management" to spread them out. For example, if
you've got a car garage, you might lock out that 25 kw
air compressor from 3 pm to 4 pm and instead let the
air tank drop pressure a bit).
Knowledge may be power, but communications is the key
There are several more power losers than the 4. I just mentioned the 4
on this line when questioning the one line vs. 2 line scenario. Folks on
completely separate lines are complaining of higher bills also.
and wife gets out to read while farmer pats the dog on the head.
I would suspect that the reader is the same as all I've spoken to are in
the same township. But identical mistakes?? Doubt it.
I can question the REC about other reader's districts.
If all were estimated at previous years levels this would make sense,
excepting the fact that when I read the meter it was still in line with
average daily usage based on 6 years data. The November bill was higher
than average which negates the estimate theory , I think.
"I'm so confused!"
If there was higher voltage, it's gone now.
this thread until
That's not quite so. If I can come away from this discussion or a
discussion with the REC understanding how with 20% fewer days usage, the
total kwh went up by 5% over the 6 year average, I'll be tickled. If
they estimated: OK, I'll accept that It will all come out next bill. If
higher voltage 'spun' the meter, OK, just tell me. I just feel I need to
know. As I said before, I may be thick as a brick when it comes to
electricity, but I'm fairly methodical and can see through a wall if
given enough time. I appreciate those who are continuing to put up with
my plebeian thought process on this.
Now, where's that next windmill, Pancho?
I've been reading the meter nearly daily since I got the bill. Usage is
in line with 6 year data averages. (21 kwh/day)>
Yeahbut, it's not just me and my meter.
"When it all comes down,
I hope it doesn\'t land on you."
Thanks to all who have thought on this and offered your opinions. What
I've concluded so far is that this is not just my problem. At least 10
neighbors experienced the same thing. This tells me that it isn't just a
leaky extension cord.
A 20% reduction in the # of days with electricity means that on the days
I did have power I would have had to use 20% more each and every day to
maintain the monthly average of the previous 5 years. I was indeed 10%
colder for the month of DEC 07 than average, but heating is a small part
of our (collective) electric usage. the neighbors heat with LP, Oil ,
wood, or corn none use electric heat or heat pumps.
Someone mentioned higher voltage being pumped through the lines. Does
this make sense to you who are not electrically challenged? How about
My plan now is to gather more anecdotal evidence (oxymoron?) and
question the REC on Monday.
1. Did they estimate Dec's reading. (or other months)?
2. What could have caused this average monthly (31 day)usage when we
were all without power at 20% of the time?
Further thoughts and notions appreciated.
Same problem here in NE oklahoma. I live on a dead end street, 20
houses, everyones bill went up. We were out of power from the 9th of
december to the 18th of december. I left town on the 22nd. of december
turning all power off. got a 137.00 bill for december, previous month
was less than 60 bucks. I went to my REC and they gave me the biggest BS
I've ever heard. I finally said, dont piss down my back and tell me it's
raining, and left. BTW 15 to 20 other irate customers in the REC lobby
wanting explantion of their bills. I've got a complaint in to the
Corporation Commission, and wrote a letter to the local liberal rag. You
aint wrong, their hosin us. My REC lost 1500 poles and now they want us
to pay for it in one month, BS. I shut off all breakers except for the
front room recepts, one lamp and TV/webtv. wonder how they'll justify
screwing me next month. My walls are 14 inch thick, brick and concrete.
i live by myself, and took my wash to the laundermat when out of power.
I have baseboard radiant heat and have thermostats in each room. the 2
spare rooms, I close off and never heat and cool. leaving only the
master, which i keep cool in the winter and the front room/kitchen less
than 800 sq. feet. yeah, were getting screwed.
No neither would explain it. Voltage or hz changes big enough to
have this big an effect on your billing would almost certainly
have caused damage to some of your or your neighbor's equipment,
and would probably have been visible during the time.
Actually less hz means more current to inductive devices like
motors, and more hz means less current. hz changes won't do
_anything_ to pure resistive devices.
With many devices, when you raise the voltage, the current
doesn't increase at the same rate, and in some cases even declines.
In a pure resistive device, a 10% increase in voltage comes with
a 10% increase in current -> 21% in watts. However, many devices
in a home don't behave that way. Even incandescents significantly
change resistance as the voltage goes up (filament gets hotter). In
other words, V/I isn't a constant in incandescent bulbs or resistive
I'm more thinking of a processing error in their billing cycle. If
you know what the before/after readings were (directly from the
meter) compare that to the bill. It's remotely possible that when
presented with a big gap in the data flow, the billing software
gets confused - eg: a negative increment instead of a positive.
Who knows, perhaps the meter electronics forgot something while
they were unpowered _that_ long.
You seem to be lucky that your utility is also interested in
understanding what's happening. Keep working it - they will
want to figure it out.
Age and Treachery will Triumph over Youth and Skill
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