Emerald People’s Utilities District (EPUD) customers may be seeing another large bill.
Customers’ March bill (which covers the month of February) should be arriving if it hasn’t already but EPUD officials are warning that the possible increase is not attributed solely to the new tiered rates set in place last April.
In early February, the company issued a statement apologizing for December’s high bills.
“Over the past month, many of you have voiced concerns about high electric bills and the tiered rate structure that was implemented in April 2017,” General Manager Scott Coe wrote. “Your phone calls, emails and public statements helped us realize we did not adequately prepare you for the impact this structure could have on bills during winter months. We also did not clearly communicate why we felt this was the right thing to do.”
The company, however, has since been clear that the tiered system is not soley responsible for the higher rates.
“It’s the temperature,” said EPUD’s public relations coordinator Patty Jo Angelini. “Customers saying their bills have doubled, it’s just not possible,” she said.
The average temperature in December was 45.3 degrees. In January, the average temperature was 36.8 meaning that February’s bills were set to be higher despite the tiered rate which assigns a higher price per kilowatt hour for households that use more power.
Customers who use between one and 600 kWh will pay .0696 per kWh, a one-cent reduction in comparison to the previous rate. Those who use between 601 and 1,800 kWh will remain at the current rate of .0796 per kWh and those who exceed 1,801 kWh will pay .1089.
“Some of the increase is due to the tiered rate change but the majority of it is the temperature. We had a cold February,” Angelini said. “The bills in March will be higher.”
In a sample bill, December saw a $141.90 charge. January’s bill for the same anonymous customer paid $242.55.
“The average temperature went down but the bill did not double,” Angelini said.
EPUD is providing several options for customers unable to pay their higher bills including a free energy audit which Angelini says can often cut a power bill in half.
The utility has also waived late fees and offered an extended enrollment period for its Equal Payment program that allows customers to pay the same dollar amount every month by averaging the prior year’s bill.
For more information, or for specific questions about a bill, contact Angelini at (541) 744-7440.