To protect the privacy of certain individuals the names and identifying details have been changed.
Julia and Jessie McIntyre lived in a small-town in Alberta. This year, Julia got a new job in Edmonton, so she and Jessie moved to the city. Since the job would only last one year, they decided to keep their house and rent it out while they were working in Edmonton.
Julia and Jessie found a couple to rent the house for the year but only a few months later, the couple told them that they were moving out. They said that the utility bill was too high for such a small place. When Julia met with them, they told her that someone from the power company had come to read the meter and asked why they had a commercial meter in their house when they were not a business. Julia and Jessie were shocked.
Julia phoned the Utilities Consumer Advocate (UCA) to see if they could get some money back for any of the high charges. A member of the UCA team spoke to Julia, and then to the energy company. The UCA found out that the couple who used to own the McIntyre’s house had a small family business that they ran out of their home. This explained why the house had a commercial meter.
The Mediation Officer told Julia that energy companies do not need to tell their customers what type of meter is at a property and do not need to check on the property – even when the name on a utility bill changes. The UCA advised Julia to call her distribution company for a site visit. She wanted to see if she could get a lower rate on her energy service and meter because her house was a regular residence and not a business.
Only 10 days after her request, the utility company changed Julia’s rate and meter to “residential”. This meant that her future energy charges would be lower. Julia and Jessie were happy that the UCA could help when they had questions about their utility bill.
If you are noticing an unusually high charge on your utility bill, talk to your energy company. Before you buy a new home or start renting, ask to see a previous utility bill for the property. Make sure it shows the right kind of meter.