By Sean Roberts The Independent
Published: September 12, 2012 9:am
Utility Power Solutions, A company in Livermore, CA works with commercial entities to make sure utility bills they receive are accurate.Rob Washington, Director of Business Development at Utility Power Solutions (UPS), asked, “Do you ever wonder when paying your utility bill at the end of the month if the bill is accurate”? That question should be asked more often, and with good reason.
He notes that 70% of the time, the audits show errors and overcharges, which save businesses an average of 22%. The auditing process, which is done on a contingency basis, uses sophisticated, proprietary software. The software system has been thoroughly tested and used to conduct over 10,000 audits nationwide.
According to Washington, most people approach reducing energy costs the wrong way. They have been conditioned by advertising to first install items like solar systems, better insulation or Thermo-pane windows. “What they should really do first, is conduct an audit of their Utility Bill, to find out where the problems are, before spending any money. This is easily done, it doesn’t cost any money.”
He offered an example of typical results of a utility bill audit. A well known winery finds an overcharge of $49,000 caused by incorrect utility rates. A golf course in the East Bay is charged $2400 I year for the past ten years on a non-functioning meter. An office building owner receives a $10,000 refund due to an overcharge.
The savings and refunds come from identifying and fixing common occurrences of metering errors, rate errors, mathematical and clerical errors, misclassifications, missed incentives, unclaimed credits, duplicate charges and market pricing opportunities.
UPS has developed a free and easy way to determine in advance if a client can save money by using an audit. The client simply provides authorization and a typical utility bill. A UPS auditor then inputs the data and uses the utilities web portal to determine if there are any “Red Flags” in that bill, which indicate errors.
If Red Flags are found, UPS will usually recommend a complete audit, which goes back 36 months to find errors and overcharges. UPS is responsible for conducting that audit. All the work is conducted on a contingency basis, so there are never any upfront fees. When errors and overcharges are found UPS handles the paperwork to obtain refunds and continues to audit the account to eliminate any future errors. A portion of the money saved or refunded to the client is then shared with UPS. “We don’t get paid until our clients get their money,” says Washington.
In addition to billing errors, often an audit will uncover areas where a client can make changes that result in substantial cost savings. For example, if a business were considering energy management software or renewables such as LED lighting an audit will often actually allow the proposal to be more efficient and less expensive while still accomplishing the energy objectives.
In addition to businesses where the pump and motor usage can amount to a large percentage of the total bill, there are certain industries where billing errors occur frequently. Some of these are: Agriculture, Manufacturing Facilities, Municipalities, Schools, Hospitals, Wineries, Mining Companies, Non Profits and Commercial Properties.
Because the subject of Utility Bill Audits is not well known, UPS provides free Educational Seminars throughout Northern California for persons who want to learn how to slash their utility bills.