This article is written for the unlucky electric service customer that gets hit with an inaccurate electric bill because the electricity meter was malfunctioning and the meter reader had to estimate electric usage based on historical averages from the previous year. Sometimes an electric meter could be malfunctioning and show lower usage amounts than what the electric service customer is actually using. Months could go by before the meter reader realizes that the electric meter was showing a smaller amount of usage than what the consumer was using. When this happens the electric company can true up these charges and bill the customer based on a previous years usage amount. This means that you could have been charged $30 a month for several months but then the electric company sees the mistake and sends you a bill for $1000 to recover lost income from the meter malfunction. The dollar amount would be based on what you used historically the previous year and not actual usage. This historical usage estimate rule means that even if you were not staying at the home or business during the time your meter was malfunctioning you will still be charged based on last years historical usage averages.
You would be surprised but many people in this situation claim they were not in the house at the time in order to attempt to not have to pay a higher price when the utility figures out their mistake. I would not be shocked to get some comments below from people claiming this has happened to them and they were not present at the home and therefore should not have to pay based on last year’s usage. The utility will usually work out some type of payment plan so you can pay out the difference over time but you are unlikely to win the argument that you were visiting your sick grandmother during the time your usage was low when it was verified to be a meter malfunction.
Who is Responsible for Meter Malfunctions and Charges?
Ultimately the company responsible for the electric meter malfunctioning is the Electric Utility company also known as the TDSP company or the pole and wires company. In the Houston area the electric utility is Centerpoint Energy. In the Dallas area the pole and wires utility is Oncor Electric Delivery. These companies handle fixing the poles and wires, meters, and they own all the electric infrastructure that delivers the electricity to your home or business. Before you get all out of shape and frustrated with your retail electric provider like, Reliant Energy, TXU, Stream, Ambit, Liberty, Spark, Champion, or any of the 30 retail electric companies servicing Texas you should get your facts straight. The retail electric provider only has a few responsibilities. They buy commodities, hedge energy, and sell you that electric service. Another job the retail electric provider does is to bill you based on usage data they receive from utilities like Oncor or Centerpoint Energy. You see the retail electric provider is not in control of reading the usage data or that the usage is accurate. The utility is the responsible party that all complaints and issues regarding accurate meter reading and usage data should go to.
If your TDSP meter reading company has misread your meter data or the meter has malfunctioned and you feel that something should be done about it we recommend you contact that TDSP company and express your complaint and issue. These companies will send someone on site to investigate the matter. Someone will also follow up to explain how you will be billed or compensated for the inaccurate billing.
In Some Cases the Retail Electric Provider May Have Advertised a Rate Without the TDSP Charges Included
Sometimes the meter data is being read correctly but you still notice additional charges averaging 3 – 4 cents per kWh on top of the initial advertised retail electric rate you were quoted by a Texas electricity company. When this happens you are probably dealing with only a handful of electric companies that practice this form of electric rate advertising. Most Texas electricity companies will bundle the TDSP charges into the residential electric rate so you have a total all-in bundled rate to look at. This bundled rate allows the Texas consumer to be completely informed of what the total rate will look like with all charges included. This total bundled rate will usually be in the electricity facts label.
Some Texas electric companies we know who advertise residential electric rates without including the TDSP charges in the bundled rate are listed below:
These companies have received several consumer complaints from their customers on our site claiming that they thought they had signed up on a bundled rate but found additional charges they were not aware of when receiving their first months bill. Since most Texas electric providers include all charges in a bundled format in their advertised rate on their site or other advertisement it has confused many consumers who than sign up with companies like Liberty Power who do not include the pole and wires charges in their advertised energy price.
Comparing Electric Rates With All TDSP Charges Bundled into Rate
If you would like to compare Texas electricity rates for residential homes and apartments that have all TDSP charges bundled into the rate then we recommend using the chart below. The comparison chart has several reputable electric companies in Texas without a history of hiding certain fees and charges from their customers. You can compare electricity prices with confidence when picking a provider from the chart below.