Although it may be a mild winter -- even by San Antonio standards -- customers of CPS Energy, the city’s electric company, are experiencing huge spikes in their bills, specifically January.
CPS Energy confirmed staffing of meter readers has dropped, which contributed to increased estimated meter reads. The utility's Christine Patmon said staff members who are retiring are not being replaced, and the it recently finished negotiating contracts for meter readers.
"Estimated meter reads are not unusual,” she said. “It's an industry standard. It's something that the [Public Utility Commission] allows electric companies to do, utilities to do. We're not governed by the PUC but we follow those rules and guidelines."
Customers who experienced a higher bill in January possibly received lower bills during the last few months of 2012.
If that happens, Patmon said customers can always pay more during low-bill months, or get on the budget pay plan that averages consumption over a 12-month period.
"If you receive a bill and your bill seems to be a little bit lower than it normally would be, if you turn the bill over and you see an "E" on the back of the bill next to the read that means it's been estimated,” she said. “And what you can do is go ahead and pay what you normally would pay or what you may have paid the previous month."
The utility is also integrating automated “off-site meter reads” across the city. 100,000 are being installed currently with 370,000 already installed. Patmon said half of the city should be upgraded by the end of this year.
With high bills even during mild weather months, Patmon said customers experiencing a higher-than-normal bill can call the utility customer service line at (210) 353-2222 to work out a payment plan if it is overwhelming.