LE Billing Snafu Appears Slightly Less Egregious

I say apparently, because no one ever responded to my entreaty to tell me I was wrong. Or if they did, I didn’t see it. In any event, Chuck did a little parallel research and found that billing of the first 1,000 KwH is constant – the rate doesn’t vary based on how much total electricity you use in a billing cycle. That was one of my big complaints. Chuck says three LE officials have told him this, and his math seems to check out. I’m not sure why someone from the city didn’t respond and say no, that’s not right, when I first wrote about it speculatively. I was hoping to use that post to clear up issues. I like to use posts to draw people out. It’s more efficient than chasing people down and trading phone calls. Really, I’ll correct/clarify anything I get wrong and call myself a bozo in the process if warranted.

However, this revelation does not change the salient issue of the billing snafu: It is completely unfair to have a graduated, variable rate structure if you cannot guarantee a constant billing period. It is also highly unwise to drop bills on customers without warning that look much larger than they are accustomed to, even if those bills reflect billing at the normal rates. Face the music ahead of time, guys. It’s always better.

6 thoughts on “LE Billing Snafu Appears Slightly Less Egregious

  1. BILLY:

    I have been somewhat out of pocket dealing with a myriad of issues but I would like to clarify some things and give some history on what exactly happened with the longer than normal July billing cycle.

    Starting July 1, 2009 a new fuel rate was to take effect. By ordinance the established fuel charge starts at the beginning of the month and meters included in the first billing cycle are read so all Lakeland Electric customers have the same fuel charge for the month. In the July case there was actually a fuel decrease of $2.15/1,000kWh for residential customers.

    Meter routes were postponed three days to allow for the new fuel rate approved by the Utility Committee and established by the City Commission. This action compounded by the short week and Independence Holiday weekend resulted in meter routes that started behind desirable schedules.

    It was a mistake that we apologize about but we are doing everything we can to fix. Through Sept. 30th Lakeland Electric is waiving all late fees for the current billing period; if past due date presents a problem. Lakeland Electric is also relaxing all payment arrangement guidelines to facilitate those customers that may need assistance during this current billing period. This means that payment arrangements will be authorized even if there has been a payment arrangement in the previous 90 day period. Also, all payment arrangements made in the current billing period will not hinder future payment arrangement decisions.

    We have also changed the current fuel charge ordinance so future implementations will start on the first cycle of the read date instead of the first of the month. In other words, meters will be read on schedule and future increases or decreases will take effect at the first meter reading cycle of the month.

    Once again, we apologize for the inconvenience and “bill shock” that it may have caused some of our customers. By the way, our household experienced one of those 40 bills.

  2. BILLY:

    I have been somewhat out of pocket dealing with a myriad of issues but I would like to clarify some things and give some history on what exactly happened with the longer than normal July billing cycle.

    Starting July 1, 2009 a new fuel rate was to take effect. By ordinance the established fuel charge starts at the beginning of the month and meters included in the first billing cycle are read so all Lakeland Electric customers have the same fuel charge for the month. In the July case there was actually a fuel decrease of $2.15/1,000kWh for residential customers.

    Meter routes were postponed three days to allow for the new fuel rate approved by the Utility Committee and established by the City Commission. This action compounded by the short week and Independence Holiday weekend resulted in meter routes that started behind desirable schedules.

    It was a mistake that we apologize about but we are doing everything we can to fix. Through Sept. 30th Lakeland Electric is waiving all late fees for the current billing period; if past due date presents a problem. Lakeland Electric is also relaxing all payment arrangement guidelines to facilitate those customers that may need assistance during this current billing period. This means that payment arrangements will be authorized even if there has been a payment arrangement in the previous 90 day period. Also, all payment arrangements made in the current billing period will not hinder future payment arrangement decisions.

    We have also changed the current fuel charge ordinance so future implementations will start on the first cycle of the read date instead of the first of the month. In other words, meters will be read on schedule and future increases or decreases will take effect at the first meter reading cycle of the month.

    Once again, we apologize for the inconvenience and “bill shock” that it may have caused some of our customers. By the way, our household experienced one of those 40 bills.

  3. “We have also changed the current fuel charge ordinance so future implementations will start on the first cycle of the read date instead of the first of the month. In other words, meters will be read on schedule and future increases or decreases will take effect at the first meter reading cycle of the month.”

    Thanks, Kevin. This seems like a good common sense change that gets at my primary criticism (not that my criticism matters) about not having graduated rates and variable billing periods.

    Thanks for responding.

  4. “We have also changed the current fuel charge ordinance so future implementations will start on the first cycle of the read date instead of the first of the month. In other words, meters will be read on schedule and future increases or decreases will take effect at the first meter reading cycle of the month.”

    Thanks, Kevin. This seems like a good common sense change that gets at my primary criticism (not that my criticism matters) about not having graduated rates and variable billing periods.

    Thanks for responding.

  5. Loosely related to this blog post, how’s this for aggravation: my neighbor who supports his wife and daughter on his sole income called Lakeland Electric to question why his bill was so high. After being on hold for an hour, he claims, his boss told him to go to Lakeland Electric and look into the issue further, because she also wanted to know what was going on with her bill.

    The next morning, he went there at opening time and asked to speak to someone. He was told no one could help him because they have closed the customer service office- he would have to call the customer service number.

    I understand that the person to person desk has closed, but it is laughable to me that he couldn’t talk to anyone in the building. Instead, he had to go to his car and use his cell phone to speak to someone inside. I told him if that had been me, I would have made that call from inside the building just to point out how ludicrous that situation is.

  6. Loosely related to this blog post, how’s this for aggravation: my neighbor who supports his wife and daughter on his sole income called Lakeland Electric to question why his bill was so high. After being on hold for an hour, he claims, his boss told him to go to Lakeland Electric and look into the issue further, because she also wanted to know what was going on with her bill.

    The next morning, he went there at opening time and asked to speak to someone. He was told no one could help him because they have closed the customer service office- he would have to call the customer service number.

    I understand that the person to person desk has closed, but it is laughable to me that he couldn’t talk to anyone in the building. Instead, he had to go to his car and use his cell phone to speak to someone inside. I told him if that had been me, I would have made that call from inside the building just to point out how ludicrous that situation is.

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