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Enbridge and Bill Shenanigans

in Case Study, Energy, Frugality, Home Expenses

Equal Billing Polka

For a while I have been reading about folks who have had HUGE end of year bills from Enbridge (these folks are using the equal billing capability that is offered to customers). These issues have been outlined by other financial bloggers and it has arisen for various reasons most of which are mistakes made by the billing system for Enbridge not taking enough money to cover the yearly costs, but the customers are expected to fork out the difference none the less. This is the danger of an “equal billing” system because you are at the mercy of the calculations your Utility uses (and I don’t like the fact that some force you into direct withdrawal at the same time, if you wish to use the Equal Billing system too, but that is for another post).

As you can tell good reader, it is rare that I will redo a story I feel has been well done by one of my peers (OK, sometimes I do), but in this instance, I have a very different perspective on this storyline.

A while ago I wrote about how when I replaced my washer and dryer with a new front load washer and dryer, I seemed to be saving a great deal of money on Water Bills ( How Much Water Do I Use? ), what I didn’t mention is that we changed from a Natural Gas heated clothes dryer to a standard Electric Clothes Dryer, as part of this switch over. This was done mostly because getting a Natural Gas dryer in the model we had was going to be a big issue, and was going to delay delivery of the new washer.

I noted that my Natural Gas usage seemed to be dropping over time, but I also noted that my electric bill seemed to be increasing by that same amount (if not a little more), but this means that now I actually have an over $270 credit with Enbridge, I await to see what Ottawa Hydro will be asking for as an overpayment for my Electric Bill (hopefully they will not just take the money from my account).

No, I am not really saving any money here (I think if I am lucky it is a wash (pardon the pun)), but it is interesting to see what Enbridge will do about this credit. Right now I have a bill that states I have a large credit with them, will they simply leave the account credited for now and let the credit get consumed slowly by me not paying, or are they going to send me a cheque to settle the account?

Right now it seems the former is true, and they will revisit my account in the fall, so that means I should take the extra money I am saving and give it to Ottawa Hydro as overpayment to cushion the extra bill they will be hitting me with.

Interesting how these things work out. Did anybody get burned the other way by “equal billing”?

{ 2 comments }

  • Gammj August 16, 2010, 8:09 AM

    I’m on an equal billing with Union Gas down in SW Ontario and it’s not a problem for me.

    Due to the mild winter and the price of natural gas going down, I ended up with a a $250 credit at the end of my equal billing term (this month). I just don’t have to pay Union Gas anything until the credit is used up. It was the same thing when I moved into my new house 6 years ago. I had to make an initial deposit, and for a number of months I didn’t have to pay anything as my deposit was used up.

    And it’s kind of hard to be totally surprised by the bill at the end of the equal billing period. The ending of the period is every August, a time of low gas usage to begin with so you’re either building up credit or paying down your bill. The most important part though is that on EACH and EVERY bill, it very clearly states how much you have paid, and how much gas you have actually used.

    If you’re ahead, it’ll say “After paying this bill, you have paid $XX.XX more than you have used.” If you’re in the hole, it’ll say “After paying this bill, you have $XX.XX less than you have used.”

    I could pay the bills the conventional way but the EBP has it all pretty smoothed out so the debit or credit isn’t that big in August most of the time. I like to stay on the EBP simply because it’s more convenient for me. If the winter ends up being harsh and/or gas prices go up, a potentially huge bill won’t immediately effect me.

    Oh, and there’s no forced direct deposit here either.

    Reply

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