Check your electric bill

Electric bill higher than normal? Yes, there’s yet another rate increase from American Electric Power in the bill but the main reason for the suddenly high bill may stem from the utility estimating the bill because AEP employees couldn’t get to your house to read the meter.

In typical fashion, AEP chose not to share this information with customers and admits the bill is estimated only when confronted. They also admit, reluctantly, that the estimate is on the high side.

If you think the bill is too high, call them and complain. Under the law, they cannot require you to pay the higher bill based on an estimate and AEP cannot charge you a late fee if you refuse to pay the additional amount. Tell them in a firm voice that you will pay what the same amount as the previous month’s bill and they can make the necessary adjustments when they get around to reading the meter.

AEP routinely bullies customers. Don’t take it. You have rights. Use them.

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15 thoughts on “Check your electric bill”

  1. Not so fast Doug..Thats AEP stance on the matter of estimating the reading. They read my meter and I do not have lots of Christmas lights (just the ones on the tree which wasn’t on much) I rarely cook, wash 3 loads of clothes a week and my bill went from 177.00 to 428.00. I expected some increase it’s been cold and then the 15% AEP took…but good grief. So, if those of you buy the statement it will average out next month….hold on to your hat…oops I mean wallet.

  2. My bill was double last month’s bill. Sure I was expecting an increase due to the cold, but what the heck?! I called AEP and said that my bill was exact. Last year at this time our usage spiked too, but this is the highest bill I’ve ever received from them, with the highest recorded usage by far, and I can’t figure out where any of that increased usage would have come from.

  3. Problem is it wasn’t 15%, it was a 30% increase this year and 17% last year thats 47% increase in 2 years , just crazy, but they have not got permission on the increase yet, they went ahead and put the increase on this winter in hope that they will get the 30% and if not refund the money in the spring with interest, thats just the stupidest thing I have heard in a while, most parts of the Us they would never be allowed to do this until the increase was accepted. But here in Va. there are no organizations representing the public, there are many of these type of organizations elsewhere, to keep utility companies in check.

  4. What intrigues me is what will consumers do if these huge increases stick. That is to say, if the bills don’t retreat. Talk about politicians getting an earful, not to mention the blame for letting this monopoly pile up huge bills. I’m sure the politicians will catch the blame and they in turn will blame AEP and demand lower rates, etc, etc, etc. Should become interesting.

    As for me, I’m looking into an on demand propane water heater to significantly reduce my electric bill and if I like that, then I’m gonna look into a propane stove for cooking. I believe I can get the 30% tax credit too for changing to a propane on demand water heater. Solar is too pricey for me just at this time, but that will definitely change as my electric bill inches ever more higher. Its only a matter of months (a few years or so) until most people are shelling out $500 or more per month to keep the stockholders at AEP happy. Like big oil, one day I hope to be able to tell AEP exactly what they can do with their electricity. Hope I live long enough to acheive it.

    • You may want to start to save up for the solar and wind options now. Judging by all the money they’ve spent on marketing, it’s only a matter of time before T. Boone Pickens and his pals start to tighten the screws on those of us that are using LP and other natural gas products. I forget what the commonly accepted figure is, but the earth receives enough energy from the sun *each day* to meet all of our energy needs for many years. I don’t think this even counts the solar and gravitational energy that can be captured from wind and tides. Geothermal energy could also be thrown on top of that.

      There is no shortage of cheap energy, they just haven’t yet figured out how they can exploit it, exploit you and make obscene short-term profits simultaneously. Meanwhile, a major portion of the “true cost” of our current energy technology is being pushed off into the future. The power barons are more interested in today’s profit and could care less about your grandchildren or even their own.

      • You are so correct Rick. When big oil figures out how to corner the hydrogen market, suddenly hydrogen will be the total answer. It already is to me. Use solar and/or wind power to generate electricity to hydrolyze the water molecule, save and bottle the hydrogen, burn it in vehicles creating only energy and water, save the water (which will then be already distilled) then hydrolyze it again and repeat the cycle. Anyone with access to sun and/or wind should be able to set something up. But big oil wants to continue using hydrocarbons, stripping the hydrogren molecules from the chain, thereby leaving us…..MORE CARBON. Of course, as my son says, once everyone starts generating their own hydrogen, big oil will pay off the politicians to pass laws that makes it illegal for us to generate our own hydrogen. Politicians will claim its too dangerous and explosive for us homeowners to do it safely. Its all a racket and in the favor of big oil.

  5. Another thought I’ve often had, Rick relative to AEP and other power barons is why don’t they more efficiently utilize the infrastructure they have everywhere – the power poles. Count the number of poles between Floyd and Chburg on Route 8. There are literally hundreds. Why not put a small solar array on each pole, everywhere and tie the output into the lines supported by the poles? Sure, each array is not going to generate that much, but collectively the amount could be huge. Multiply that by all the poles from east to west coasts and I’m certain the power barons could eliminate a few power plants at least. They’ve already got the poles standing there, why not use them more efficiently, eliminate some workforce and power plant upkeep and clean the air a little more.

    I know, I’m a dreamer.

  6. I called to complain when we got our bill this week. Should have read your column before I called them, Doug, AEP claims that our bill is based on a reading, but if so, the reader flew in on a helicopter and hovered in the air to read the meter. The only footprints in the snow on the side of the house where the meter is are mine–that’s the snow remaining from before Christmas. So, I guess we will be calling them back and asserting ourselves even more on this issue. You might want to advise people about the appropriate government entities they can contact about the substantial rate increase.

  7. Anne,

    Jeff is right. Our home has one of those emitting meters. I watched the day AEP installed it. We were told then that AEP would eventually have every customer converted over to those meters. Saves time, money, dog bites, etc.

  8. I am both sad & glad I am not the only one wondering about the AEP bill! We are green as frogs, use only the minimum and the bill TRIPLES in one month! I called and they asked me if I had maybe left a ceiling fan on… oh, my. I am getting a set of plans to build wind turbines. At least that will make the cold Floyd winter wind will do me some good!

    • After reading this post by Doug I was anxiously awaiting my electric bill for this month. I’m served by Appalachian Power in the Pilot area. The bill has oddles of info about past and current useage. There is even an option to join the Average Monthly Payment plan that is base upon the past consumption rates. My meter base was upgraded to the radio frequency transmitter version some time ago, maybe even years ago.

      I’m a gentle consumer but with this cold snap I know it’s going to be higher in the Winter, it always is and always has been. So just to put some numbers to use I can tell you I consumed 16% more KWH than the last bill. Dividing the total bill amount by the KWH consumed I can tell you a KWH cost $.136 The same calculation applied to last month’s bill says a KWH cost $.1306. This shows a 4% increase from the last bill to the current bill.

      It’s not a great mystery to figure it out. If your bill is double or triple it’s not due to a massive rate increase. I’m skeptical that an estimate billed to anyone with an old style meter would be more than the Average Monthly Payment even if you weren’t signed up on that plan. They also know, and it’s on your bill, how much you consumed last year during the same billing cycle and it would be reasonable to bill that number of KWH.

      That’s my story, with facts and some simple arithmetic. Try it sometime.

  9. We were using propane heaters when we got wind of the rate increase. We have a tankless hot water heater also and weren’t home very much and our bill was still higher than last month. AEP is messing up any recovery that the country may be trying to make. They are out for themselves and don’t care about us. Our bill should have went down. Their are going to be alot of people without power because they can’t afford it. Its not like they have another company to go to and AEP knows this. Maybe we need to take this to our Senators and Congressman and make AEP part of our Government Bailout so the cost then would go down.

  10. Just a note in regards to reading the new Itron Digital Power Meters. I’ve searched Google high and low and have found very little or no information in regards to understanding what the 5 numbers mean.
    Also, just a note to save your self the time. I went to Appalachian Power feeling surely that I could find the answer there and had to register for a free account before I finally arrived at the pdf file “How to read your Meter”. And was amazed to discover that it shows you how to read the Meters they got rid of 2 years ago! The ones with the umpteen dials etc. Mike

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