For most local governments, streetlighting is one of the largest monthly electric expenses. Utilities charge a flat rate for unmetered streetlighting, which varies for each unit depending on the lamp wattage and type, fixture style, type of pole, and ownership. Unfortunately, utility companies are often negligent in record keeping protocols necessary to maintain accurate bills for streetlighting service. Few entities have the manpower and ability to perform the work necessary to determine if the charges they’ve paid for streetlighting service have been accurate.
TriStem is the only firm in the country that understands the dynamic nature of streetlighting and has given attention to resolving problems that relate to billing, maintenance and record keeping. Our audits and advocacy for our clients have resulted in utility companies taking actions to improve processes related to the streetlighting systems they own and maintain. TriStem has found that in excess of 90% of highway departments, cities, etc are overcharged for street
and highway lighting. Of all TriStem’s recoveries, more dollars have been found for street lighting than
anything else. Street lighting recoveries and savings alone total in the hundreds of millions of dollars to our clients.
Tristem’s audit process for unmetered streetlighting involves one or more field samplings to reconcile the utility providers’ inventories with lights that exist in the field, and analysis of contract/tariff terms to determine if services are being performed as agreed to. When local governments pay for both metered and unmetered lighting, the audit must include processes to verify that both types are accurately reflected in the monthly billing, and that no duplications have occured.
Our in-depth streetlight analysis includes, but is not limited to:
- review of historical rates, charges and units billed;
- reconciliation of account billing with utility provider’s streetlight inventory;
- analysis of streetlight inventory to identify and research potential discrepancies, which commonly include:
a. lights that do not exist
b. billing for wrong lamp or pole type
c. billing for lights that are another customer’s responsibility
d. duplicate billing
Once errors are documented, TriStem will work directly with the utility – with your oversight – to correct overbillings and negotiate the maximum refund for your organization. The processes described here are included in our standard audit of electric utility bills at the same fee – 49% of refunds received by the client and 0% fee on savings.
Local governments face unique challenges when it comes to streetlighting. Public officials are obligated to ensure streets are adequately lit for both aesthetic and safety purposes, must maintain an ongoing cordial relationship with the utility provider due to constant need for changes to the streetlight system and other city infrastructure, and work to reduce costs and implement efficient and cost-effective lighting. TriStem can help you address these challenges by finding, documenting and facilitating correction of mistakes and other deficiencies related to streetlighting, and securing refunds for overbilled services.