Kaysville City Conservation Charge

Conservation Charge

History

Over eight months ago I wrote about the city conservation charge for electricity that was not detailed on resident’s utilities service bills. At the invitation of Mayor Steve Hiatt I brought this to the attention of Kaysville City Council five days later.

From Kaysville City minutes of 1 June 2010:

Richard Willoughby stated that he has a concern with how the City bills for electricity. He explained that billing is on a tier system. If the bill goes over 1,000 kwh in a month the customer pays an additional amount, which is about 20.6%. That is not explained on the bill. To make it more clear, a software change should be made so that there is a better explanation on the bill. (Public Hearing Minutes)

Finance Director Dean Storey said at the meeting, if I recall correctly, that this change was already being planned before I brought up the issue. From the same minutes:

Dean Storey explained that he is looking at revising the utility bill to include additional information and historical usage. He explained that residential meters are on a two tier system where people pay more after 1,000 kwh to promote conservation. It also costs the City more to buy additional resources.

At the meeting it was also stated that the utility bill was being redesigned and would make it clear at what rate(s) electricity was being paid.

Questions

  1. Eight months ago the change was already in progress. Is this update more complicated than it first appeared?
  2. The redesigned bill of January 2011 (see image below) has no reference to the conservation charge. Is another redesign planned?
  3. Is there an estimate available for the implementation of the planned software change? Note that the calculations are already in place, they are just not printed on the bill.
Utilities Service Bill

January 2011 bill with document revision date and usage circled (click to enlarge)

Answers

  • If you have any answers to the questions above, or just want to add to the discussion, please comment and I will insert a summary of any answers here.
  • I will also be glad to correct any part of this post that is in error.

Conclusions

Understandably, this is not a high priority. However, it would be helpful for residents to have Kaysville City remind them that there is a conservation charge being levied. This is best accomplished at the time of billing, as is the practice of other power companies.

I am appreciative of the hard working Kaysville City employees and understand that not every request by residents can be implemented, but…

Trying to incentivize residents with a hidden conservation charge has little chance of success.

Sources and Notes

Updates

10 March 2011 — A question arose about the new utilities service bill. On the January and February 2011 bills there is an “Energy Use Tax” that has a dollar amount of “.00” as the second entry in the “Description of Current Services.” Is this the conservation charge or some other fee/tax to come later? The conservation charge is still currently hidden within the “Electric” entry.

For example, looking at my electric bill of $96.29 (excluding sales tax of $3.66):

(1,000 kwh X .09 = $90.00) + (58 kwh X .1085 = $6.29) = $96.29

So the new bill is worse than the old in that it can give the impression that there is no energy surcharge for exceeding 1,000 kwh whereas there is an additional markup of 20.6%.
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All Is Well In Kaysville Again

Jake and Rachel at the budget hearing

Jake and Rachel at the Kaysville City Budget Hearing

All is well in Kaysville again for me but maybe not for many others. I went to the Kaysville City budget hearing this evening, as suggested by Mayor Steve Hiatt, to request that the electricity billing be improved. Jake and Rachel came with me to lend support. We arrived early before most people showed up. Eventually there were around 80 people in attendance, three-quarters of them Kaysville City employees. Several of them spoke about salaries (there are no raises this year) and some requested newer equipment. The Mayor made sure everyone who wanted to had a opportunity to speak, just like he said he would do during his campaign.

As I pondered what they were saying it reminded me of the 5% pay cut I took three years ago, along with many other engineers at Hill Air Force Base. It wasn’t until this year that my wages finally caught up. Cuts in wages and/or benefits are not easily forgotten and when circumstances change in favor of the employees one shouldn’t be surprised when they leave for better prospects.

Speak Before The Council

When it was my turn to get up and speak to the Council I found it a different experience than speaking in Church. At Church there are maybe 300 to 400 in the congregation but most of them I know. The Council on the other hand, I do not know and have only spoken to Mayor Hiatt once when he wasn’t the mayor but wanted to be. At Church a good number of the congregation is being distracted by children, or are talking to each other, looking around, not listening, or have fallen asleep, some with their eyes open. And once I start speaking a few more will fall asleep. However, there are several in the congregation giving smiles of encouragement and many others that look like they might be interested in what I have say.

As I stood before the Council they were all paying close attention, looking at me intently, and not a smile on any of their faces. It was somewhat intimidating but I pressed on. Fortunately I felt I was well versed in the facts of my request.

A Redesign

One of the city employees, the Finance Director, Dean Storey, told the Council that the utility bill was being redesigned and would make it clear at what rate(s) electricity was being paid. Dean also explained about Demand Charges for commercial customers. If a customer demands a lot of power in a short time period they have to pay extra power charges. This does not apply to residences.

So all is well in Kaysville again. At least for me. For now.

External Articles

Davis County Clipper: Employees raise serious concerns with Kaysville budget
Kaysville City Public Hearing held June 1, 2010: Minutes

Updates

7 February 2011 — I have changed the post to improve clarity by adding headings and replacing “Budget Man” with “Finance Director, Dean Storey.”
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A Kaysville City Annoyance

Kaysville City bannerThere are some annoyances in life that are minor enough to be ignored. They don’t bother me at all unless I am reminded of them, and even then I forget about them quickly. One such annoyance is my Kaysville City Utilities Service Bill.

Although my utility bill arrives promptly each month it is just four times a year that the aggravation arises. To be specific it is the billing for the December, June, July and August electricity use that is the source of irritation. Not the cost of the power but the way the power is billed.

I will explain.

The first 1,000 kilowatt hours of residential electricity is priced at 9 cents per kilowatt hour (kwh). Thereafter the price rises to 10.85 cents per kwh. That is an increase of 20.6% in the unit price cost. Take a look at my January bill:

Kaysville City meter readings

There is no indication that the usage of 1,265 kilowatt hours for a cost of $118.75 is any different than last month, except it is higher. Yet the numbers do not add up, unless you know of the two-tier rate. To demonstrate:

Kaysville City Residential Energy Rates
Single tier — 1,265 x $0.09 = $113.85
Two-tier — 1,000 x $0.09 + 265 x $0.1085 =  $90.00 + $28.75 = $118.75

Perhaps the biggest disapprobation is that there is no indication on the bill that an additional charge is being added.

In a Good Cause

Well, you say, the additional fee is for a good cause. Probably to reduce global warming by encouraging conservation. Or perhaps to offset the same tiered charges the city pays on the open market. Very unlikely I reply. This is because the commercial rates are tiered, but in reverse. In other words, commercial users obtain a discount the more energy they use, which of course is how many products are sold. Consider:

Kaysville City Commercial Energy Rates
First 1,000 kwh — 9 cents per kwh.
Next 9,000 kwh — 6.5 cents per kwh.
All additional kwh — 4.75 cents per kwh.

Perhaps I am missing something here and my readers have an explanation. In the meantime Kaysville City has proposed an increase to power rates of around 7.5 to 8 percent. The last increase was 7.5% in May 2007.

These increases cause me no irascibility. But the hidden tier is reason for vexation. But only a little, and not for long — and soon forgotten.

Electricity rate source: Consolidated Fee Schedule 2009 (PDF), see page 8. If no longer available at the source, try this link.
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