Thursday, October 30, 2014

FFPC set for true monthly billing

Fort Frances Power Corp. is making the transition to “true monthly billing,” meaning that customers now will be billed for electricity used between the first and last day of every month.
But before they get the first bill for 2014, FFPC customers will be getting their final bill of 2013, which will be out late next week.

FFPC CEO and president Joerg Ruppenstein said the transition to “true monthly billing” stemmed from the FFPC’s customer satisfaction survey conducted last summer.
“We got an overwhelming response supporting or requesting that we move to ‘true monthly billing’ because it’s a lot easier for a lot of people when your bill is going to come the same time of the month, every month,” he noted.
“Another added benefit is that now when you’re looking at your power bill in the future and you look at January consumption, it’s truly January—it’s not from mid-month to mid-month,” added Ruppenstein.
“So it makes the billing process easier, as well as it’s a lot more user-friendly for our customer base.”
Unfortunately, the only way to make the transition to true monthly billing, the FFPC had to break the way it has historically billed, and waited to bill everyone up to the year-end of 2013 “to get everyone into lockstep,” said Ruppenstein.
As such, FFPC customers’ next bills will account for electricity consumed up to Dec. 31, no matter when they received their last bills before then.
“What this means is that in some cases, customers will have a shortened bill but more problematic is if customers have a longer bill,” noted Ruppenstein, explaining that if FFPC had billed the old way, some customers would have received a bill about three weeks ago.
“It’s not going to affect all customers—it’s just depends on what part of the month they were historically billed at,” he added.
Some customers could be billed for less than a month while others could be billed for “as much as 57 days in extreme cases”—it all depends on how long it’s been between their last power bill and Dec. 31.
Ruppenstein said he understands some people will have big bills to pay but the FFPC will work with them to make payment arrangements.
“It’s too bad we had an extreme cold snap so people’s consumption is going to be higher,” he remarked.
“We’ve noticed that from our transformer station metering. A tremendous amount of electricity was used [last month].
“However, in order for us to accommodate true monthly billing, we have to break the cycle and this it the logical step to do it,” Ruppenstein added.
To make payment arrangements, call the FFPC at 274-5323 ext. 249.
FFPC customers bills for January, 2014 will be sent out the third week of February—and continue to be sent the third week of each month thereafter.
Ruppenstein said the new billing cycle should help people who get paid monthly, with the bill due dates hopefully better aligned with those people’s pay days.
On the bright side, Ruppenstein said that by April, the FFPC will be able to distribute the residual 2013 value of the historic power agreement.
“We are looking at approximately $1.1 million that is going to be given back to eligible customers,” he noted, adding people who have signed up with an independent electricity retailer are not eligible.
Ruppenstein said this means FFPC customers will be getting a “healthy” credit on their bill similar to one distributed in mid-2012.
The credit is based on use, so the more power customers have used, the bigger their rebate.
For some customers, the credit will pay for two or more months’ worth of power bills.
Looking to the year ahead, Ruppenstein said FFPC customers will be able to sign up for electronic bills (e-bills), as well as access their “smart meter” usage data through a web portal.
The latter will tell them exactly when they’re using how much electricity so as to use power in the wisest way.

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