Penticton catches up on electrical billing
The City of Penticton is going to be playing a bit of catch up over the next couple of months, which may cause some confusion for customers of the city’s electric utility.
With the switchover to AMR electrical meters complete, Penticton is looking to take advantage of the ability to read meters quicker to shorten the billing cycle for electricity customers.
When meters had to be read manually, the process could take more than two weeks by itself. But the AMR meters, which can be read remotely by a vehicle driving through a neighbourhood, allow that same job to be done much quicker.
“We have become more efficient in reading meters. A process that used to take us two weeks is now taking us four or five days,” said Doug Leahy, the city’s chief financial officer. “We’re trying to shorten up our time from actually reading your meter to the time you are invoiced and the money comes to the city.”
Shortening the time between reading and billing, Leahy explained, means that some of those days will shift to the current cycle, resulting in an apparent increase. Customers will see the effects on their March and April bills.
“We’re billing from behind. You are using up that consumption then we bill you after the fact. We are trying to catch that up. It’s all a timing issue in our billing cycle,” said Leahy. “There are no excess funds, this money has always been owed to the city, we’re just trying to speed up our billing process.”
Leahy explained that because of the extended time it formerly took to read meters, the electric utility is up to two weeks behind customer’s actual usage.
“It’s a one-time adjustment, it isn’t ongoing,” he said, adding that the city has chosen to do the changes over two months to ease the impact on customers. The amount of change will vary from customer to customer.
“It really depends on where you are in the cycle,” said Leahy. “It depends on when they actually read the meter. You are not read on exactly the same day each month.”
March and April were also chosen to lessen the impact, according to Leahy, who noted these are months with lower electricity usage.
“That’s what we were looking at. We want to not hit people in the peak cold season,” said Leahy.