Did you get one of those hand-dandy Potomac Edison "Electric Rates for West Virginia Customers" pamphlets in your recent bill? Did you try to use the pamphlet to check Potomac Edison's math or to figure out what the different line items on your bill mean? Don't. Don't try to figure it out. You're going to drive yourself crazy!
If you're one of those folks who just go with the flow and pay whatever the company charges you without even looking at your bill, then don't read any further. However, if you're one of those folks who scrutinizes things and speaks up when they're not right, this is for you.
There are two, possibly three lines items on your bill. Your "base charge," your "environmental control charge," and if you live in a municipality that imposes taxes on your electric consumption, there will be a line item for "taxes."
What goes into your "base charge?" If you use your rate pamphlet that Potomac Edison just sent you, the W.Va. Rate Schedule R - Residential rate is detailed as a flat $5.00/month customer charge, plus an Energy Charge of $0.08747 per kWh used. So, if you multiply your kWh used by the Energy Charge rate and then add the $5 Customer Charge, it will add up to the base charge line item on your bill, right?
WRONG! It doesn't add up.
Try calling the company for an explanation. They give you some complicated explanation that there are additional charges for things you can't find on your rate pamphlet under the Schedule R section. If you push them to explain it to you so you actually understand, they get their panties in a bunch. Try calling the WV Public Service Commission to see if they can explain it to you. They'll send you a bunch of schedules and a list of charges that went into your bill, but again, you can't find these charges on your rate pamphlet.
Turn your rate pamphlet over to the back cover. Under the heading of "Lighting Fixture - Customer Owned Pole" you will find some additional charges entitled "Environmental Control Charge," "Environmental Control Charge Normalization," "EEC Program Cost Recovery Rate," and "Temporary Transaction Surcharge."
Hey, Environmental Control Charge -- that's a separate line item on your residential bill, isn't it! And if you multiply your kWh used by the Rate Schedule R rate, you will get the same number!
But what about those other three charges? They're not separate line items on your residential bill. But they're in there. They've been added to your "base charge," along with your Customer Charge and Energy Charge.
Go ahead, try it. Multiply your kWh by each of the three remaining charges (taking note that the Environmental Control Charge Normalization is a credit, or subtraction from your bill for residential customers). Then add that to your Energy Charge and Customer Charge and see if you don't get the same subtotal that Potomac Edison got on your bill. Add in your Environmental Control Charge and Tax line items and you get the amount of your current bill! Amazing! Doesn't that sound easy?
No? You're not alone. It shouldn't take an intelligent guy a week and countless phone calls and numerous emails to become utterly frustrated with this confusion. You know what the ratepayers think, Potomac Edison? They think you make your bills confusing on purpose so that you can find new and interesting ways to gouge them without them noticing. So, I explained the rate pamphlet, the actual rate, and the correspondence, tariff sheets and other "explanations" he was sent by the company and the PSC. Just one more service I provide. I won't say he's thrilled, but he understands now. Why did you waste his time (and yours) like this Potomac Edison and WV PSC?
Why can't you include the ENTIRE Residential rate scheme on the front of your rate pamphlet, Potomac Edison? Why did you put those mystery riders on the back page under the Lighting Fixture Schedule? You're a special kind of stupid, aren't you? There's no reason calculating and understanding your residential electric bill needs to be this hard. Maybe you should ask a customer now and again about how you can improve their understanding of their electric bill and the rates they pay. Because I'm not going to be here to clean up after you forever.