Generally consumers want a rate that will produce the lowest bill. So off they go, calling electricity companies and comparing rates. They haggle down a nice tasty fixed rate, and lock it in. But what many business owners and home owners alike do not know is that the rates they sign up for can be deceptive. Those low-looking rates at a seemingly rock bottom price may look appetizing, but it might be full of hidden gotchas, making for a fatter bill.
Think of salad. When the healthy bug bites us, we may want to eat well for a spell. So we look at the menu. There are burgers, ribs, and Caesar salad. “Oh good,” we exclaim, “A good choice for my caloric budget. Yes, I think I will have the salad.” Nope. That tricky salad with all the croutons, cheese, and dressing has more calories than the Burger. That’s right you could have eaten a burger and consumed less calories! Ugh. That is about as depressing as getting an unexpectedly high electricity bill at the end of a summer month.
And so it is with power rates (electricity or natural gas). This idea holds true whether you are shopping rates for your home or for your business. Let’s get to it then. Where are some of the calories hiding in your rates?
- Meter Fees – Also called Customer Charge and Meter charges, these nasty little fees are hiding in both residential and commercial accounts and can be as high as $10-15 per meter per month! Some meter fees are justified, but most are not and can really add up. For a small business, a $10.00 meter fee each month is equivalent to half a penny per kWh on your rate (the difference between 5 cents and 5.5 cents per kWh!) and you worked so hard to whittle that price down! Gulp. A commercial business with 4 meters at ten bucks a pop, will over-pay by $480 per year on meter fees alone. Ouch.
- Unnecessary cost components are passing through from the utility to you! That’s right. You may be paying a cool five cents per kWh, but what other line items are tagged on to your bill in separate line items? Oh dear, another bite out of your wallet.
- Contract language – There are many reasons to watch your language. One of which is contract termination language. Some commercial contracts will automatically renew at a much higher rate unless you notify them (in writing…through snail mail….60 days prior to your contract end date) that you want your contract to terminate. If you do unknowingly roll into this renewal, you could be slapped with a hefty early termination fee if you try to switch.
It looks like that while you were negotiating that super low rate, that supplier could have been raising your meter fee, adding croutons to your contract, and even removing expensive cost components from your “fully fixed” price to cover the distance. Why is this allowed, you may ask? Because suppliers’ prices, in large part, are not regulated; suppliers can present pricing however they want to. (Read more about the difference between utilities and suppliers.) There is really no such thing as “apples to apples pricing” right out of the gate, but a good broker can get to the meat pretty quick.
Obviously the market has become complicated enough to warrant some folks to become experts (like us!) and those experts can be your budgetary dietician if you will. (Want to know how to choose an electricity broker?) Shop My Power knows where the gotchas are, who the good suppliers are, and other wonderful things like where is the best place for a (really though) light lunch in the metro. Click or visit us in Allen today.