Complaints about High Electric Bills Fading

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG TV9)- A summer’s worth of customer complaints about high Alliant Energy electric bills may be fading along with the hotter-than-normal months.

An example of the new smart meter Alliant Energy is installing in homes and businesses to replace current meters. Iowa Utility Board members heard complaints the new meters may be giving higher readings than expected. But the board said hotter weather this summer is the real culprit.

But the issue even came up at Tuesday’s Iowa Utilities Board meeting in Des Moines.

Some of the complaints to the utility involve the “smart meters” that Alliant is switching to throughout its service area in Iowa. Some customers feared the new digital meters, that automatically send consumption figures to the utility, were responsible for the abnormally high readings.

But in discussing the issue Tuesday, utility board members agreed with Alliant’s explanation.

It’s not the fault of meters, rather it’s the warmer weather during several summer months than pushed up electrical consumption.

Justin Foss, an Alliant spokesperson, said two months this summer averaged a lot higher, temperature wise, than the same months in previous years.

“You look at the high for the day, and it’s not like we 120 degree days in the summer. So is wasn’t the peak temperature. We just had more sustained heat this year,” Foss said.

For instance, Foss said National Weather Service figures show it was the warmest May in 20 years—three times hotter than normal. June was also 50 percent warmer.

The measure used is Cooling Degree Days.

He also said the problem was temperatures didn’t cool off a lot at night so air conditioners kept working running up the power bills.

Foss said social media posts throughout the summer fanned the flames of concern about higher than normal electric bills.

But most customers accepted the explanation it just took more power to cool homes and that meant higher electric bills.