Your power bill invoices are due every month, and many businesses make the mistake of believing they are being billed correctly. Some organizations, in fact, have an account management staff in place to monitor and record their invoices each month. This offers firms the false sense of safety that their invoices are being inspected every month to guarantee they are proper.
A utility audit is a thorough inspection of all-electric, gas, water, and sewage accounts. The audit identifies billing errors and assesses the effectiveness of rate plans. Unfortunately, the majority of individuals are unaware that a utility and telecom audit is even a possibility. So, today, we’ll go over what a utility audit is and how it might benefit you.
What is the Purpose of a Utility Audit?
A thorough bill audit entails digging deeper into your utility accounts to ensure that the utility providers are charging you at the lowest feasible rate.
The purpose of an audit is to guarantee that your accounts are at the most advantageous rates depending on your:
Load distribution graph
However, the focus should not be solely on whether your accounts are on the best rates, but also on things like numerous added charges and riders linked with the electric bills.
The frequently overlooked unnecessary costs that lead to higher expenses that can at times last for multiple monthly invoices being another key factor.
What Does a Utility Audit Include?
A utilities and telecom audit consists of three parts:
Research – We review all service agreements and your billing history to gain a comprehensive picture of not just what you’re now paying for but also what your genuine service needs are.
Review – We undertake a remote evaluation of all elements of your utilities and telecommunications procedures. We interact with site managers to resolve service issues, and we contact your service providers if there appear to be billing problems.
Recommendation – We provide your customized solutions after assessing your services. We may be able to bargain your contracts or offer other, less costly service providers. We will execute the ideas on your behalf only after you have given us your complete permission.
This approach is designed to identify every possible savings opportunity accessible to you to cut and remove costly or excessive utility and telecom services.
There are hundreds of utility audits out there, but we all have the same goal: to save our clients money on utility and telecom costs. Specific methods may change from auditor to auditor; therefore, the audit process described below may not accurately represent the methodology of every auditor.
How Can Applied Utility Auditors Help Your Business?
If you are looking for a utility audit in New Jersey, we are the right choice for you.
We begin our utility audit procedure by gathering all of the papers required to examine your utilities. First, we require a year’s worth of utility bills, including electric, gas, water, and sewage. It may feel like a long time, but it is vital. Looking at the last 12 months of data provides us with the background we need to determine your current bench line expenses.
We may usually begin with only the most recent invoice copy for each account and then obtain previous invoice copies from your utility vendor’s online billing site. Most businesses can provide us with invoices or log-in credentials within a few hours.
Once we have all of the relevant documents, we compare the energy use figure to the current meter reading. If there is a mismatch between these figures, it would be the first sign that anything is wrong. We seek billing mistakes. Looking into the last year’s spending trends reveals a lot more about price variation.
After reviewing the documents, we may take a step back and assess rate structures, patterns, and tax exemptions. Many businesses have unproductive rate structures, and you may be unaware that alternative rate structures are accessible to you. Therefore, we examine all options available to you to help you stop overspending.
Our utility audits identify the areas where you’re overpaying and the remedies you’ll need to cut back. In addition, we give you extra savings potential after reviewing all of your utility and telephone bills.
Simply put, a utility audit is a detailed, thorough analysis of all your utility bills, including electric, water, sewer, and gas. Executing a comprehensive utility audit finds billing inconsistencies and errors and examines your business’s rate plan for effectiveness. A utility auditor will evaluate your rate plans and suggest cost effective changes.
Utility providers do not go out of their way to make it easy for you to understand their billing system. Bills, codes, industry tariffs, and even utility terminology can be confusing and impossible for the layman to understand. Calculating what you should be paying is not simple for the novice either.
The Steps of a Utility Audit
A thoroughly executed Utility Audit will cover the following:
Your energy usage numbers will be reviewed. Your energy bills should not vary wildly, especially when comparing month to month, and season to season expenses. Carefully auditing these numbers will find billing errors and ensure that you are not being overcharged or charged for the same period twice.
Rate Structure Analysis. Your auditor knows that you are not simply forced to accept the rate structured assigned to you by your utility provider. They will have the expertise to review the different rate options available to you and select the one that fits. No utility company is going to do that work for you.
Observe Growth Trends. Periodically certain utility bills surge, sometimes with good reason. If you are in a tropical climate, your energy bills may surge in summertime, and conversely, cold climates will see higher energy bills in the winter. Water bills should remain consistent. Utility audits will uncover these anomalies and go back to the utility company for answers.
The Utility Audit Process
A utility audit will require some work on your part in the preparation phase, but after that we do all the heavy lifting. We will need to look at all invoices from your utility vendors, for all your locations. We will assess each vendor for accuracy.
Next, we will conduct a market analysis of providers, regulatory requirements, your options, and compliance. The entire process takes 4 – 6 weeks. Once you approve our recommendations, we will contact your providers and make the contractual changes for you.
Why a Utility Audit Matters to Your Business
Research shows that over 90% of businesses are invoiced incorrectly at least once a year. If you manage a large business, these expenses can be astronomical. If you manage an SMB, one large billing error can evaporate your cash on hand and paralyze your business. Here are two examples of cost saving opportunities most businesses do not consider:
Water and Sewer: Some of the largest reductions we have helped our clients attain is regarding their water and sewer bills. Not only have we found billing errors, but we have also discovered costly leaks and helped them get credits.
Natural Gas: The gas industry has changed rapidly over the past few years, and there are methods we can use that eliminate some of the risk to your business when it comes to your gas bills.
Who Executes a Utility Audit?
A utility audit may be performed by an internal team, but it is likely that most of your team is swamped doing their regular jobs. Hiring an external contractor who specializes in utility audits is often the best bet. In addition to how busy your team is, there are other reasons to hire an independent utility auditor:
A utility auditor is an expert at their work, and it will be easier for them to identify mistakes.
An auditor has experience with a wide variety of contracts and will know how to negotiate with your utility providers. Can negotiate better with utility providers.
Auditors are familiar with utility providers and know how to expedite the process.
Who Uses Them?
Large multinational companies, and SMB’s may benefit from an in-house auditor depending on the number of utility providers, number of accounts with providers, and total utility spend. Enterprise and SMBs also benefit from Utility Audits. We are experienced working with all three entities.
If you are spending more than $2,500 per month on your utility bills, an audit is highly recommended. If you have questions or would like to schedule a consultation, contact us by email, or call us at (888) 208-0020.
1000’s of Customer’s Accounts Audited
Average Savings 17%
Get money back at no cost. Over 35% of utility, telecom, internet bills have errors. Do yours?
We review our clients’ utility/energy bills and determine if there are errors or
overcharges that have been paid, that can be refunded.
At no cost to you we have our staff analyze your bills to determine any incorrect charges, i.e.: classification, surcharges, tariffs, taxes, demand charges, etc.
Remember, this program is on a contingency basis, meaning we only get paid if you get your refund.
We provide in-depth auditing of utility bills to identify opportunities for cost control, to uncover errors, and to secure client savings and refunds. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Here are some examples of the refunds we have secured for our clients:
Request a Free Audit by completing the form below or clicking this button.
Click: Start Saving
Allow us to share our 30+ years of healthcare experience. It is our goal to find savings that will allow you to either upgrade systems, operate more efficiently, and to direct more money to your bottom line.
Our auditing is performed on a contingency fee basis. We do the research and legwork required in recovering the money you have already spent and continue to spend. There is no charge to you if we do not find any errors or areas where we can affect savings/reductions. Some examples:
We saved Lakeland Healthcare over $1200.00 per month on telephone services which they used to pay for a new telephone system for the entire facility. We provided our in house financing on an installment sale basis. This system also provided dial tone to the residents, providing a profit center that generates over $2,000.00 per month.
Provided a system design that upgraded their 30+ year old Dukane hands free intercom system, into a state of the art audio-visual nurse-call system with 2 way voice to the residents, at a savings of $40,000.00 when compared to a new Dukane system.
At Liberty Manor Assisted Living we supervised/ acted as G.C. for their low voltage systems including: Telephones for administration as well as the residents, which provided a profit center.
Integrated the wireless nurse call, wander, door alarms, and fire alarms to wireless, and wired telephones. A full description and magazine article regarding this unique solution is available in a separate white paper.
We also provide a solution to save on utility expenses, and are expert in discovering billing errors.
As Utility Auditors, we see this kind of outrageous over-billing often. $115 million, in this instance, will be refunded thanks to rarely seen sanctions against this type of behavior.
If you believe your business or investment property has been overbilled – on any utilities – do not hesitate to contact a Professional Utility Auditor – Immediately. Applied Utility Auditors offers no – risk services. We only get paid if you get a refund. Don’t get over your head in overhead.
March 18, 2015 Last updated: Wednesday, March 18, 2015, 5:29 PM
By DAVE SHEINGOLD
Staff Writer |
Electricity users in six Passaic County communities and all of Morris County will see their rates drop slightly in the next few months following a ruling Wednesday by state regulators that sanctioned Jersey Central Power & Light for overbilling customers, but also let the company recoup money spent repairing damage from major storms.
In a unanimous vote at a meeting in Trenton, the Board of Public Utilities ordered JCP&L to refund $115 million to customers through the rate reduction, mostly to cover overcharges for power grid maintenance throughout its northern and central New Jersey territory from 2008 to 2011.
But the board also ordered that ratepayers pay for $736 million JCP&L spent restoring power following Superstorm Sandy and other bouts of severe weather since then that caused blackouts of up to two weeks.
The net result of formulas that parcel out those expenses over varying periods of time will be a $34 million cut in the company’s annual revenue and a drop of 1.2 percent, or $1.68, in its average residential monthly bill, according to the board. The exact month when bills will drop has not been set, but should come this spring, said BPU spokesman Greg Reinert.
JCP&L’s 1.1 million customers include 15,400 in six Passaic County municipalities – Wayne, West Milford, Wanaque, Pompton Lakes, Bloomingdale and Ringwood – and 197,000 in Morris County.
“Today’s order ensures that JCP&L is providing safe and proper service at just and reasonable rates, while also securing and being mindful of the company’s financial integrity,” said BPU President Richard Mroz.
The decision represents a middle-ground between a $207.5 million revenue reduction sought by a state consumer advocacy office and a request by JCP&L for a rate hike to cover increased expenses and storm-related costs.
In January, a state administrative law judge largely sided with claims by the office, known as the Division of Rate Counsel, that JCP&L used complex accounting techniques to return too much profit to its parent company, FirstEnergy Corp. of Akron, OH. The judge said the issue of storm costs should be addressed in a separate proceeding.
The BPU, however, combined both matters into one.
The ruling was criticized by Stefanie Brand, director of the Rate Counsel’s office, for rejecting the office’s request for retroactive rate cuts and postponement of storm-cost repayment.
“I’m disappointed,” she said. “It’s still a reduction. But I think they should have taken into account the fact that ratepayers had been paying too much for a number of years. They could have phased this in.” She declined to say if the order would be appealed.
Ronald Morano, a spokesman for JCP&L, said the company would review the order before commenting, but noted that it planned $254 million in improvements this year. Those include new circuits, upgraded utility poles, flood-proofing around power transfer stations and tree-trimming around power lines. The latter effort is aimed at a key problem in the company’s largely suburban and rural territory.
Wednesday’s ruling ends an unusually long-running case involving claims that disputed, in highly arcane terms, the write-offs, equipment depreciation and other accounting techniques used to set rates that generate JCP&L’s revenues. A key issue was whether JCP&L collected too much to cover its federal taxes and then used that money to offset taxes owed by other FirstEnergy subsidiaries.
Brand’s office also accused the company of improperly cutting costs, especially on grid maintenance and tree-trimming. JCP&L responded with a case of its own, seeking rate hikes.
As many New Jerseyans, Pennsylvanians and New Yorkers have come to discover over the winter, the relatively new marketplace for third party suppliers of electricity has not been as great in practice as it may have been in theory.
Many third party suppliers, it seems, have been inexplicably driving up prices on consumers, claiming increased costs due to winter weather — in spite of the non-inflated prices from the primary supplier. A Forbes Contributor went so far as to proclaim this trend a “new scam.”
How are they getting away with this dodgy practice? The marketplace, after all, allows customers to switch suppliers, right?
Unfortunately, switching suppliers can take months to finalize, and some of these companies seem to be exploiting that fact while banking on the docility of others. Late notices for bills threaten power shut-offs and this can also serve in the interest of these price-jackers as people are afraid to take any corrective action.