HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Huntsville Utilities customers are speaking out about substantially higher bills in January than in previous months.
In response, the company posted on Facebook, addressing the confusion. According to spokesman Joe Gehrdes, billing period changes along with the colder weather resulted in higher bills than folks may be used to.
“As we started to peel back some of the complaints we were getting, we did notice that the billing does come into play,” Gehrdes said. “I can certainly understand why a customer who is looking at their year over year usage and not understanding why it’s so dramatically more, well you add four days to your billing period during a cold period or a hot period, that can make quite a difference on your bill. It’s not a change in the rate it’s just that you are getting billed for more days than you are accustomed to.”
Gehrdes said a typical billing cycle is 28 to 30 days but over the holiday season those cycles tend to be longer. In fact, he said there are a lot of customers whose billing cycle was up to six days longer than usual.
“So the best I can do right now is say, when we get around the holiday period, particularly the winter holidays, this is an issue,” Gehrdes said. “You are likely to have a longer billing period than any other time of the year.”
However, many customers have responded saying they haven’t turned on their heaters or AC’s in the past few months and the extra days do not justify the $100 to $200 increases. Some customers have also accused Huntsville Utilities of price gouging during the holidays.
In response, Gehrdes said Huntsville Utilities is a municipality-owned not for profit utility, and cannot change electric rates without the approval of the city council. He also said the company is seeing increased use of electricity and natural gas across the board.
Huntsville Utilities is well aware customers are not happy but confirm rates have not gone up and the company is seeing predictable patterns of usage, particularly for this time of year.
Gehrdes said customers will see some relief in the form of a shorter billing period next time. In the meantime, the company has a number of ways to analyze consumption for each customer and Gehrdes encourages folks to reach out. Also, if you have the new smart meter, you can visit the Huntsville Utilities online portal and look at your household consumption on an hourly basis.