Village of Skaneateles corrects billing errors; announces more detailed utility bills

Village officials took time to address recent emails, letters and calls expressing concerns about electric bills, at the April 10 Village Board meeting.

Director of Municipal Operations Bob Lotkowictz gave a presentation noting an error in some recent bills, explaining changes to future utility bills and explaining the village’s tariff system for electricity.

For November through March, commercial electric customers have been under-billed by at most $9.08 per month. Due to an issue with the new billing system software, which was installed in July 2013, those customers were billed at the wrong rate. The problem has been corrected and new bills will be sent, Lotkowictz said.

Residential utility bills, though correct, will be made more detailed in the future to reflect the village’s tiered-usage rates.

The village has three classifications for power customers: residential, commercial and industrial or demand customers. The definition of those classifications and the rate associated with each are called the tariff and is approved by the state Public Service Commission, Lotkowictz said.

Residential customers pay a minimum monthly charge of $3.25. The residential rate is set at $0.0340 per kilowatt hour (kWh), however during the winter months (November through April) they are charged $0.0504 per kWh for all usage that exceeds 750 kWh.

In the future, bills will reflect how much power a customer used and what rate they paid, including the second rate if consumption exceeds 750 kWh during the winter, Lotkowictz said.

With the new bills, residents will be able to double check the rates and math to make sure they are correct, Trustee Sue Jones said.

“It’s very important, I think, that when a resident gets a bill that they can go down and across and follow the way we get to the numbers,” Jones said.

Power bills also contain a line labeled “Power Adjustment.” Power adjustment is a charge distributed among the ratepayers, based on their usage, that covers the additional expenses the village has for purchase power when village-wide demand exceeds its hydroelectric power allocation. It also pays for transmission charges and other fees incurred when the village has to purchase power from the New York Municipal Power Authority or National Grid.

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