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1a

Why Did My Bill Increase This Month?

If you receive a bill that is higher than normal, the first thing to look for is the number of service days in the billing period. This number is located in the middle of the bill just above the Meter Reading Data. More days in the month will generally result in a higher bill.

Next, find the kWh/Billing Day data under the Energy Management Information box. Compare it to your prior year. If it's significantly different, stop to consider if you have added a major appliance or altered your lifestyle in some way that might account for the change. Another good reference is to compare the average temperature for the current year to that of the prior year. Lower outdoor temperatures will generally cause a higher energy bill. Also, compare the meter reading on your bill to the reading on your meter.

1b

Why do my bills vary when I haven't Done anything different?

Our life may seem routine with little fluctuation. However, there are events that go unnoticed that can change the amount of energy your home uses. Seasonal weather changes have the largest impact because of heating requirements.

Space heating accounts for about 50% of your energy bill. Other winter loads include portable space heaters, heat tape, furnace-fan motors, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and lighting. All of these appliances can cause your bill to increase. Did you add any of the above loads to your home this year? Also check to see if something is plugged in that you are not aware of.

1c

Why is my bill so high? We've been out of town for weeks?

Your home continues to use energy even when you are not there. Consider the electrical appliances that work while you are away. The refrigerator and freezer, water heater, electronics, and any appliance that is thermostatically controlled.

Indoor temperatures for most homes are kept above 65-degrees Fahrenheit. If the outdoor average temperature for the day is below 65 degrees, your home will require heat energy. The lowest setting on most thermostats is 50 degrees, so homeowners may not be aware that their heat is running during cold weather.

The only way to assure all electricity remains off, is to turn off the circuit breakers to the heat circuits. Many people forget that energized lights and appliances add heat to their homes. Your furnace or electric heater will run longer if these lights and appliances are off while you are on vacation.

1d

Why does the graph on my bill show that my use is higher this year than last?

The graph shows your location's usage as average kilowatt-hours per day for 15 months. Directly below the graph are three important tools that help you understand your bill. Consider the following as causes for a higher bill:

  • If the average temperature is cooler, your heating cost will be higher. Space heating is your #1 cost.
  • If your average kilowatt hours per day is higher, you might want to consider how your use of electricity is different from the prior year. This number creates a better comparison when billing periods differ in length. Average cost per day will fluctuate with our seasonal rates, and varies if other billed charges are included in the total cost.
  • Did you add electrical equipment or do more people live in the house now compared to last year?

The answer to this question is not an easy one because the events of a year ago are difficult to reconstruct. However, it is a good question and deserves some research. Call the office and talk with our Energy Expert, Alec Mesdag at 463-6303. He can help.

1e

I heat with oil. Why is my bill higher in the winter?

Furnaces have electric motors that operate when the furnace is on, and may continue to run until the furnace shuts off. During a cold month, the single highest contributor to your electric bill may be your oil furnace. Also, more time is spent inside during the winter, which means lights are on for longer periods of time, and other appliances are used more.

My neighbor's house is the same size as mine yet my bill is always higher. Why?

Lifestyles, construction quality, and appliances play a big part in determining your home's energy costs. Comparing homes of equal size is common and does provide a starting place to begin discussing the subject.

Trying to heat a leaky, poorly insulated house is like trying to draw a bath with no plug in the drain. Homes and how people use them differ. Putting those major factors aside, a home of equal size, similar construction, and generally the same lifestyle should use about the same amount of energy.

2a

Why do I have to pay a connection fee each time I move?

If you move and transfer your service more than once in a 12-month period, you may be charged a connection fee. This fee covers the administrative costs of setting up your new account.

2b

Why do I have to pay a customer charge each month?

This charge covers the cost of providing you with service, whether or not you actually use any electricity. This portion of your bill covers expenses such as metering, billing, and maintaining your service drop. This cost is spread equally among customers with your rate classification.

2c

What is the Cost of Power Adjustment (COPA)?

When you pay your monthly electric bill, you're paying for three things: the electricity you've used, a customer charge, and something called COPA. Your electricity usage is charged at a seasonal rate which pays for generation and distribution of energy. A customer charge (a flat rate based on the rate class or category) covers certain administrative costs, such as accounting and billing, meter reading and maintenance, and some line installation costs.

COPA, or Cost of Power Adjustment, is a method that regulated utilities use each month to recover costs that are not included in their base rates. And it's not exclusive to investor-owned utilities such as AEL&P. In fact, most co-ops and municipally owned utilities have a COPA for fuel costs and purchased power (buying electricity from another power supplier). AEL&P has the added benefit of selling surplus energy. That surplus energy revenue gets passed on as a credit to our customers through the COPA mechanism.

3a

Can I pay by credit card?

Yes. Paymentus is our trusted third-party automated payment service that accepts VISA, MasterCard and Discover credit/debit cards, as well as e-checks. You can pay your bills any time, day or night, either online, or over the phone at 1-866-288-3866. You can also pay at our Lemon Creek office during normal business hours through the Paymentus payment kiosk. Please note that there is a convenience fee of $2.95 for every transaction up to $400. There is also an ATM in our Lemon Creek office lobby.

3b

Do you have an automatic payment system?

Yes. Using our Easy Pay option, AEL&P will automatically take the payment right from your checking account on the day of the month that you request. You can also set a maximum total payment amount, and get email notifications throughout the process.

We also offer electronic checking through eCheck. This option allows you to send a check or savings account payment from your computer or mobile device at no charge! Your payment will be processed the following bank/AEL&P business day. Holidays

3c

Do you have a paperless billing option?

Yes. With our Paperless billing option, you will no longer have to look for a printed/paper bill in the mail each month. Instead, you will receive a monthly electronic billing notification by e-mail, which links you to our secure website where you can log in and view your bill.

4a

Where does our electricity come from?

During normal conditions, AEL&P produces 100 percent of its base-load generation through hydroelectric power. This provides clean, renewable, and low-cost power for Juneau. The Juneau community has five hydropower plants: Snettisham, Lake Dorothy, Annex Creek, Salmon Creek, and Gold Creek.

Snettisham is the largest hydro project with a maximum peak output of 78 megawatts and an average annual energy output of 295 million kilowatt hours. This project is located about 28 miles southeast of downtown Juneau and provides about 70 percent of Juneau's electric energy. Built by the Federal Government in 1973 and expanded in 1990, the Snettisham Project was sold to the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) in 1998. AEL&P operates and maintains the project under the provisions of a long-term power sales agreement between AEL&P and AIDEA.

The second largest hydro project, Lake Dorothy, was commissioned in 2009 with a maximum capacity of just over 14 megawatts. It is located on the east bank of Taku Inlet, about 15 miles from Juneau. Lake Dorothy is a two-phase project. The completed first phase has boosted Juneau's hydro resources by about 20 percent. The second phase will add another 20 percent and will be constructed sometime in the future as load growth warrants. The Annex Creek and Salmon Creek Power plants are historically tied to the gold-mining days when low-cost power was needed to operate the mills. The two plants were engineering marvels for their day, built in 1913-16, and continue to provide low-cost, reliable power today. Both provide the remaining six megawatts of capacity and add an additional 50 million kilowatt hours of energy production yearly.

4b

What is a smart meter?

A Smart Meter can record how much and when electricity is used, typically hourly, and transmit that information automatically. In addition, a Smart Meter is able to receive and transmit data to enable the utility company to turn the meters on and off. Note: AEL&P does not use Smart Meters.

AEL&P has three types of meters:

  • The old-fashioned type that is read by a meter reader once per billing cycle.
  • A type that can transmit the meter reading via a radio signal to the meter reader's mobile collection device without the meter reader having to actually visit the meter.
  • A type that can transmit the meter reading once per day via the power lines to a collector at a substation where the data is collected on a daily basis.

While we have automated our meter reading to cut down on time and labor, all of our meters are ONE-WAY communication meters. Our meters are NOT able to receive data From AEL&P.

4c

What are Electric & magnetic fields?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, "Electric and magnetic fields (EMF) are invisible lines of force that surround any electrical device that is plugged in and turned on. EMF are made up of waves of electric and magnetic energy moving together (radiating) through space. Electric fields are produced by electric charges. Magnetic fields are produced by the flow of current through wires or electrical devices.

EMF is commonly associated with power lines. A person standing directly under a high-voltage transmission line may feel a mild shock when touching something that conducts electricity. These sensations are caused by the strong electric fields from the high-voltage electricity in the lines. They occur only at close range. The electric fields rapidly become weaker as the distance from the line increases.

Many people are concerned about potential adverse health effects. Much of the research about power lines and potential health effects is inconclusive. Despite more than two decades of research to determine whether elevated EMF exposure, principally to magnetic fields, is related to an increased risk of childhood leukemia, there is still no definitive answer. The general scientific consensus is that, thus far, the evidence available is weak and is not sufficient to establish a definitive cause-effect relationship.”

More information can be found here: 

www.epa.gov/radtown/power-lines

www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/emf

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