Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Electricity bills lower this month, even with extra charge

Because of a billing error by the agency that sells the City of Lodi Electric Utility most of its power, the energy cost adjustment in February, May and June will be slightly higher than it would be otherwise.

But what you may not know is the energy cost adjustment, or ECA, will still be about even with last year’s charges, so your electric bill will see little if any difference overall compared with 2009’s charges.

That’s because Lodi’s power costs are stabilizing after several years of erratic price swings in the aftermath of California’s attempt to restructure the way power was bought, sold and delivered. In addition, a slow economy has reduced demand for energy, resulting in lower prices.

The extra piece of the ECA, which will be included in February, May and June bills, was caused by a miscalculation at the Northern California Power Agency in late 2009. For three months, another utility was improperly billed for some of Lodi's transmission charges – the cost of sending power long distances over high-voltage power lines.

When the mistake was recently discovered, NCPA billed Lodi for the previous transmission charges. Although this charge could be collected from customers in one month, the City will instead spread this one-time charge over three months, resulting in a negligible difference in electricity bills.

For instance, the ECA in February 2009 was 5.43 cents a kilowatt hour. Even including the make-up charge this month, the ECA for February 2010 is 4.07 cents a kilowatt hour. For a resident using 700 kilowatt hours of energy this month, the overall result is an electric bill that is $9.52 lower in 2010 compared to 2009.

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