Frequently Asked Questions
What to do about a high bill?
By calling one of our Customer Service Associates (505-599-1353) regarding a high utility bill for your home or business, your electric/water usage histories will be reviewed. With your assistance, the cause(s) may be identified. If deemed necessary, a work order will be processed to send for a reread to verify the accuracy of the most recent meter reading on the contested bill. When a reading is determined to be in error, a corrected bill can be sent to replace the bill in error. Note that when a meter is over or under read, the next month’s correct reading will automatically compensate for the initial reading error since home and most business meters are never turned back to “0” (similar to your car odometer). If your reading is verified to have been read correctly, then staff will refer you to the utility’s energy auditor at 505-599-1163. At no charge, the energy auditor can come to your home or business and help you determine where your electricity is going by inventorying your electric appliances and equipment and comparing his findings with your billed usage. By working together, the calculated electric usage from the audit inventory should be in the proximity of your billed usage. He will bring copies of your electric usage and billing histories for your files to examine patterns of seasonal usage. As an added tool for finding out if an appliance (i.e. refrigerator, water bed) is using too much power, an Energy Testing Meter can be left with the customer upon request to monitor its usage.
What is the “Power Cost Adjustment” on my bill?
The Power Cost Adjustment (PCA) was established in the early 1980’s to allow electric utilities to pass on unusual cost swings in fuel and other variable expenses without the need to continually change rate schedules. The PCA can be negative (cost credits to customers), zero, or positive. For several years, a positive PCA has been necessary due to the large distortion in purchased power costs, which resulted primarily from the California deregulation experiment.
What is the “Demand Charge”?
The demand charge is designed to have the larger power using customers (larger commercial and industrial) pay their fair share of the utility’s fixed investment. This includes the production, transmission and distribution capacity required to meet the customer’s maximum requirements. The charge is based on the rate at which electricity is consumed. The more electricity used at any given time, the larger the utility’s investment in generation, transmission and distribution systems has to be. For example, considering two users: A and B; both consume an equal number of kilowatt-hours (kWh) each day. User A consumes electric energy evenly 24 hours a day while user B consumes the same number of kWh rapidly in only eight hours a day. User B’s demand requires the utility to have a generating and distribution capacity three (3) times the capacity required to serve user A. User B is billed for this additional capital investment. The consumer’s actual demand is metered at the average amount of energy consumed in any interval of 15 minutes. The highest demand recorded during a month becomes the actual demand for the month. To be able to produce enough power for all customers, it is critical that the utility knows the power loads of its larger customers because they have a direct impact on the system’s total power requirements. Rate analysts and utility management can more easily predict the power requirements of the smaller power users. Therefore, charges for demand are built into their kWh energy cost instead of being listed separately on the bill.
What is the Miscellaneous Charge on my bill?
The miscellaneous charge is the fee charged to cover connection services and setting up an account in the customer’s name. Other miscellaneous charges occur for trip charges and re-connection fees.
Why are deposits required?
Deposits protect the utility and its conscientious customers from having to pay the cost of bills left unpaid by other electric utility customers.
When is a deposit required?
New customers will be charged a deposit if they cannot provide a letter of reference from another electric, water, or gas utility, or a credit report which indicates good references and no late payments for services during the last 12 months. Existing customers will be charged a deposit if their accounts are processed for disconnection; are actually disconnected for non-payment; have two returned checks; or receive three warning tags within the last 12 months (within the last 36 months for commercial customers).
How much will my deposit be?
Farmington Electric Utility requires a deposit equal to a two months bill, based upon the past year’s average billed usage, as a guarantee that the final bill will be satisfied. After 12 months (36 months for commercial customers), if the customer maintains a good credit history during that time, the deposit, with interest, is automatically credited to the customer’s account.
How can a deposit be avoided?
Customers will not be charged a deposit if they pay their current charges by the due date printed on their monthly billing statement. If you receive a “Disconnection Notice” with your utility statement that you think is in error, or if you need to make special arrangements for payment, please call 505-599-1353.
Why don’t I see my meter reader monthly anymore?
If it seems you’ve seen less of your meter reader, you may be right. Many of Farmington Electric’s rural customer locations are now equipped with an Automated Meter Reading (AMR) device. This system, which we have been installing for the past three years, is called the “Turtle” system. The Turtle system is a method of reading your electric meter over the power lines. A Turtle module is installed in the meter at your house and the consumption information is sent to a Turtle receiver at the nearest electrical substation, using the power lines. From there, the information is delivered by phone to the Turtle software in the Electric Meter Shop, where the information is processed for the billing department. The entire process takes about 27 hours to complete, thus, the name “Turtle”.
Which customers are getting Turtle meters installed and Why?
Some 12,242 Turtle meters currently in use have been installed in service area locations that are the furthest and most difficult for meter readers to access. We are installing Turtle meters for all of our customers throughout our service area, except for locations within the Farmington and Bloomfield city limits. Due to distance, rural are typically the more expensive to read. By automating the electric meter reading in the rural areas, the electric utility can significantly reduce the cost of meter reading. We have been able to cut back on the number of employees it takes to read electric meters throughout the system, as well as freeing up personnel for other necessary jobs. What now requires a trip every month will only require an annual trip for verification of the meter reading and meter testing at regular intervals. This will also reduce equipment costs (such as pickup trucks) and the cost of maintaining equipment. These reductions will help ensure that Farmington Electric can continue charging the lowest prices possible for your electricity. To further reduce meter reading cost, the utility is in the process of replacing electric meters in Bloomfield with ERT (Electronic Radio Transmitter)meters. The meter reader will be able to go into a more populated area or neighborhood and automatically read a number of meters at one time with an ERT...without having to physically travel to each meter.