Belco advises hot weather behind higher fuel bills
High energy bills could be the result of increased temperatures and humidity over prolonged periods requiring the use of more air-conditioning, according to Belco.
The firm also said that customers who do not have an AMI meter installed require monthly manual readings and that when a reading is not possible, bills are estimated based on average daily usage.
It comes after people on social media complained of high bills even when they have turned off all but essential appliances when travelling abroad.
One person wrote: “I am never one to complain. But I think something needs to be done about Belco. This months electricity bill was through the roof [this is an understatement] while I lost power twice last month and was away for a week. My Belco bill was at the most.”
Another said: “We have been away this summer as usual leaving only the fridge and a dehumidifier running. It was $250 per month last summer. It was almost $500 per month this summer.”
Wayne Caines, Belco’s president, said: “I understand some of our customers’ frustration with high Belco bills this summer.
“It has been a hot, humid summer and it is likely many customers have been running air conditioning which can substantially increase their bills.
“If customers feel their bill is not correct, they should call our Customer Experience team who can answer any questions or concerns.
“I also urge customers to visit our website where they can find many helpful tips on energy efficiency which will help to reduce their bills.”
A Belco spokesman said: “Customers are charged for the consumption of electricity — the higher the usage of electricity the higher the bill.
“During the last few months there have been prolonged periods of high temperatures and humidity that may have caused customers to run air-conditioning which requires large amounts of electricity, and this would have lead to higher bills.”
He added that customers who do not have an AMI meter installed required their meter to be read manually each month.
“Customers are asked to provide access to Belco meter readers but when they cannot be accessed for various reasons an estimated bill is generated. Estimated bills are based on the average daily usage of the previous three months and the billing statement will have a notice stating it is an estimated bill.
“Most estimates are in line with the customer’s usage. However, once an accurate reading is obtained the account will naturally ‘true up’. If a customer has paid on an overestimated statement, the credit balance difference is applied to the account.
“If usage was underestimated, Belco will cancel the previous statement(s) and adjust the previous estimate using the average daily consumption between the last and most recent accurate meter readings, spreading the usage evenly over the subsequent billing periods. Belco does not charge customers for estimate adjustments older than six months.
“Some customers may question why their bill is high when they have been on vacation. A vacation may span across multiple billing periods, which are not the calendar month, reducing the expected usage reduction on a given statement.
“In addition, while on vacation, some customers may still have high-energy usage appliances such as fridges/freezers and water heaters plugged in and using power.”
The spokesman also explained that the Retail Tariff Base Rate for electricity is approved by the Bermuda Regulatory Authority and communicated to the public.
In addition to the Base Rate, which was last changed on January 1, is the Fuel Adjustment Rate.
“The FAR is adjusted quarterly and based on the price of fuel and is a pass-through cost to the customer,” said the spokesman.
“Belco makes no profit from the FAR. The last FAR adjustment was on July 1, 2023 and is 16.513 cents per kilowatt-hour, which includes 4.581 cents/kWh government tax.”
Customers are able to create an account on the Belco website and if they have an AMI meter installed, can view their hourly and daily usage. This information demonstrates usage patterns over specific periods.