Calculating Utility Bills

Utility bills can typically be broken down into the following basic components:

• A customer or minimum service charge

• An energy or commodity charge

• A demand or maximum level of service charge

• Power factor penalties

• Adjustments such as taxes levied by state, county, and city authorities

• Surcharges or credits associated with specific orders established by various regulatory authorities

• Fuel cost adjustments that reconcile the actual cost of fuel used or delivered by the utility, with the estimated cost used in the most recent rate proceeding to set the energy or commodity charge

These basic components are expressed and calculated in many ways using various units of measure. Combined, they comprise the total utility bill, with each contributing in different ways to the weighted average cost. To calculate a utility bill, one must carefully read the rate tariff inclusive of all rate riders and adjustment clauses. One must also know the current values for items that vary, such as fuel adjustment charges. Based on this information, one should be able to calculate the utility bill exactly. If such calculations do not equal the utility bill exactly, either a mistake has been made in the computation or a piece of information is missing.

Utility rate spreadsheets are useful in performing such computations. Once a spreadsheet is built, it can be used to calculate costs for any usage pattern under a given rate or set of rates. It can also be used to quickly calculate cost savings from energy efficiency improvements.

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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