Electric Bill Audits
An Electric Bill Audit is a forensic analysis of the bills you have paid for electricity. Often times, these bills are overlooked. Electric bills are also extremely complicated. Just because the electric company is billing for it, doesn’t mean it is right. We have been auditing electric bills in-house for 40 years. We are energy bill experts. We know the factors that are used to calculate each bill and the rules that electric companies must follow. We routinely find errors on our client’s bills and know how to get them corrected. The result is REFUNDS AND SAVINGS on your electric bills. These results are achieved by identification, correction and/or implementation of measures such as:
- Taxes and fees from which customer is exempt
- Meter read errors
- Meter/equipment malfunctions
- Estimated meter readings
- Charges for incorrect or non-existent equipment
- Incorrect meter constants
- Clerical billing errors
- Billing for services belonging to others
- Billing for unneeded services
- Street light billing and inventory errors
- Tariff and contract violations
- Incorrect rates
- Alternate rates and riders with regulated utilities
- Negotiated rates and alternate suppliers with deregulated utilities
During our audits, we will review your accounts and obtain the necessary information to perform the audit. We will locate and document overcharges in order to obtain all applicable refunds. For any particular billing error, a claim for recovery will be filed as soon as that overcharge can be documented. Throughout the audit process, TriStem will communicate with the client to keep them up-to-date on what errors are found, and what steps TriStem is taking to resolve the errors. This includes reports (via emails, letters, and/or phone) and frequent communication as needed.
The audit of all stated records will cover the full period available via utility vendor historical records, and will include discovery and documentation of any utility company errors, filing of claims to utility companies for recovery of funds owed to the client, and negotiation with utilities to ensure that all errors are corrected and all funds owed to the client are paid in full.
TriStem will undertake the following tasks and responsibilities:
- TriStem’s service includes all resources required for completion of the audit. Except for initial documents needed from the client in order to begin the project, no other labor, materials, equipment, etc. are required from the client.
- TriStem will obtain one recent invoice copy for each account to be audited from the client, along with supplemental information on your service locations necessary to perform the audit. If available, we will obtain the invoices electronically through vendor portals. We will then contact the utility providers to obtain historical billing and usage data. We analyze these records as well as utility tariffs, service contracts and all applicable state and local laws. During the audit, TriStem will analyze each and every account, locate and document overcharges and other billing errors, and determine if rate adjustments or other cost savings opportunities exist.
- At regular intervals and upon completion of the audit, TriStem will submit reports to the client to summarize work performed including an detailed listing of each account audited, each error corrected, refund proposed or received, rate change or other cost savings measures taken, and the annual dollar amount that the client will save as a result of our work. Our reports will include recommendations for the client to ensure that errors found don’t occur again and tips for keeping your utility costs as low as possible.
TriStem is a member of The Energy Professionals Association (TEPA), an association of qualified industry experts who understand the intricacies of the electricity market. TEPA professionals adhere to a strict Code of Conduct and demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of electricity rules, regulation, and deregulation. By working with a TEPA professional, you are leveraging the purchasing power, knowledge and industry network capabilities that only a TEPA industry expert can provide. TEPA applicants must go through a rigorous application process including detailed experiences, industry references, services offered, and be sponsored by a TEPA professional to become members.
Work Plan and Projected Sequence and Timeline
Following is a summary of the various stages of TriStem’s Utility Audit work plan, including estimated time frames:
1. Data collection – Obtain necessary documents and information from the client. Consultant acknowledges and agrees all information supplied by the client shall remain the property of the client.
30 days from award of contract
2. Initial Review – Perform brief review of all bills received to detect common errors and savings opportunities. TriStem will contact utility providers and the client to facilitate correction of errors and refunds, and client will be notified of any initial savings opportunities identified.
1 to 2 weeks after TriStem receives necessary data from the client.
3. Database Compilation – Input billing, meter and facility data for each account in an Excel spreadsheet, along with TriStem’s audit formulas, to create a database of all client’s utility accounts. This database will be provided to the client upon completion of the audit as a basis for future account tracking.
30 to 60 days after initial review.
4. Acquisition of Documents from Utility Providers – Collection of rates and tariffs (if not already on file) and historical billing and usage data (including meter readings, usage reports, payment records, etc.) from utility providers. This will take place concurrently with the Database Compilation stage.
Average time to receive data from utility providers can range from 2 weeks, to 90 days or longer. Time frame can vary greatly; this is the stage that depends completely on the responsiveness of the utility providers.
5. In-Depth Analysis – Comprehensive audit of all documents provided by the client and utility providers. This will include:
a. Review of database using manual techniques and data-analysis software to identify “red flag” accounts.
b. Analysis of all historical documents for additional “red flag” account.
c. Analysis of rates, tariffs, and service agreements to identify any potential rate errors, rate savings, agreements violations, etc.
Our goal during this stage is identifying all existing errors and savings opportunities, including, but not limited to: meter read errors, charges billed for incorrect or non-existent equipment, meter malfunctions, incorrect meter constants, clerical billing errors, billing for services belonging to others, alternative rates and riders, unneeded services, discounts not applied, etc.
90 to 180 days from the time that all necessary data is received from the utility providers.
6. Acquisition of Supplemental Information – Consult with client and/or utility providers regarding any accounts where verification of service characteristics is needed to determine billing accuracy and cost savings possibilities. When investigating possible billing errors, TriStem may need to contact client personnel to obtain information regarding facility use and operations for services locations with utility account discrepancies.
Concurrent with In-Depth Analysis. This will be done at various points within the In-Depth Analysis stage, as questions arise. Time to completion is dependent upon responsiveness of client and utility providers.
7. Refund Claims/Recovery and Cost-Savings Measures – Submit refund claims (with backup documentation) and communicate with the client and utility providers to accomplish correction and refund of verified account errors. Submit requests to utility providers for client-approved changes to reduce future costs.
NOTE: As soon as we can prove an overcharge, claims will be filed. Claims may be filed at any stage during the audit. In each case, our clients receive copies of all claims, which are typically submitted to utility providers via email. TriStem will take the lead role in the recovery stage and stay on the claim until the proper recovery has been obtained. The client may be involved to the degree it chooses.
Time frame for issuance of refunds and billing changes is dependent upon responsiveness of utility providers, and the complexity and dollar value of the claim. Small claims are typically resolved without undue delay. Normally ranges from 30 to 180 days, but can be substantially longer for larger claims.
8. Field Work – For accounts requiring on-site inspection to determine billing/metering accuracy, TriStem will make arrangements with the client to perform field work to view meters, transformers, outdoor lighting and any other equipment or facilities whose operational characteristics play a role in the monthly billing.
30 to 90 days after completion of In-Depth Analysis.
9. Additional Claims (if needed) – Submit claims to utility providers for any additional accounts where field work results in confirmation of billing and/or metering errors.
See time frame for Refund Claims/Recovery Stage.
10. Final Report – After the audit is complete, all account errors have been corrected, approved savings recommendations have been implemented, and all refunds issued, TriStem will submit a final report to the client to summarize work performed including a detailed listing of each account audited, each error corrected, refund received, rate change or other cost savings measures taken, and an estimate of the annual dollar amount that the client will save as a result of our work. Our report will include recommendations for client staff to ensure that errors found don’t occur again and tips for keeping your utility costs as low as possible.
Within 30 days of resolution of all claims.