Can an electrical meter be defective enough to double and triple your bill?
Hi Forum Members, I hope you can help me at least understand what happened even if it can't be corrected. I know this is a very long post and I'm sorry for that, but I'm not sure how to shorten it without taking up more of your time in having to ask me questions about what I leave out.
So here goes:
I moved into a duplex unit (720 square feet) with its own electric meter (the old magnetic type) and at the time I did I was told by the electricity provider that my bill would be roughly 1200$ per year (this includes regular use of electricity plus heating with floorboards) . Seeing as this was the normal amount for duplex units of the same size with even more occupants (I checked by enquiring about comsumption at different addresses in the duplex, along the street, and elsewhere) I moved in.
The move took place in December and the first bill was sent after 2 months in February. Right then the amount was almost twice what I expected, I called the electrical company and even their employee thought it was high but she explained to me that this must mean the summer bills were exceptionally low and so it would all balance out. That never happened. Even though I don't have an AC or other energy hog the bills were always twice what they should be every time, both in summer and winter.I repeatedly tried to get the company to come check their meter but I got a song and dance about there not being employees who did that sort of thing. When I asked if I could pay an electrician to do it they said I was free to hire an electrician to check out my installation but that it wouldn't mean anything to them since he wasn't allowed to check out their meter. I couldn't get them to budge and I was too busy with work and school to start the process to take them to the energy board which I knew nothing about, so I just paid the inflated bills.
In case you were wondering, I had bought a product similar to the Kill-a-Watt and checked all my appliances over and over to see if there was a problem there and the floorboards had just been installed by a master electrician. By my calculations there just weren't enough appliances working for enough hours to account for anything more than 1200$ worth of electricity and you'll later see I was right.Since I already knew my appliances were working just fine I didn't see the point in hiring an electrician if they wouldn't refund me no matter what he discovered because of the Catch-22 that he couldn't check their meter and thus prove it was the culprit.
(You may be saying to yourself but you can't check the baseboards with a Kill-a-Watt, maybe that was the trouble. I thought of that, but the bills were also twice or more what they should be in the summer when the power to the baseboards was shut off at the source and as you'll see they weren't at fault. Also, I weatherproof my home the same way every year although the first winter I couldn't do as good a job as the next 2 because it was already too cold for some of the stripping to stick perfectly. Still, that first winter was the least expensive of the three I went through until I got a new meter so you can draw your own conclusion about that.)
After a little over 2 years of this I finally had the time to take care of this so I threatened them with the energy board and they finally came over to change the meter to a smart meter. Low and behold, though not a thing had changed besides the meter my bills, which had been up to that very day creeping up to being 3600$ a year if I had kept the old meter(3 times what I'd been quoted originally), instantly dropped down to a level that gave me a 1200$ annual bill. Anyone would consider that proof that the meter had been the problem but the electrical company is denying it.
I was right there when the technician and his supervisor changed the meter and know they carried no test of any kind before changing it but the company says that a test was carried out and my meter was working normally and refuse to believe that I didn't see their employees do a thing besides check that the had the right meter number, shut it off, and put the new one in. I was shoulder to shoulder with the one who shut off the meter from the second he was in front of it-while it was still on-until it was turned off and I watched the tech remove the meter and put the new one on- a process that took all of two minutes maximum since he was already suited up. They say the old meter has been tossed and they never checked it back at their facilities. (Not that I have any idea what they could test for once it was disconnected, but still...).
Now it's almost 18 months later, the new meter works like a dream and this is the second winter I am going through with the bills being exactly as they should have been. My hearing with the energy board is finally coming up. I went through with my threat to go there because I didn't want the electrical company to get away Scot free with their shabby customer service and the extra money they got from me because of it. I may not get my money but I do want there to be a record of this somewhere for future customers and consumer protection groups. Around the time they changed my meter I also discovered that their employees had been lying to me all along and they did have technicians who could have come over to check how the meter was working.
Oh, and by the way, the company informed me that employee who handed in the results of the test they say they carried out was laid off soon after they changed my meter ( they say they wanted to cut costs)so I have no idea how to confront him or contest what happened when he was at my house at the hearing.
I'm feeling like I was robbed in broad daylight but I know that I'm no expert on electicity or meters so I'm wondering what you, unbiased people with an understanding of this technology, think of this? Is there any reasonable explanation other than the meter being defective? What test could they have carried out that I wouldn't have seen happen if it was done right under my nose? I know meters are supposed to slow down, not speed up, as they age but do you know where I could find statistics on the failure rate or precision of these things because I've looked high and low and can't find any. What evidence is there that meters work as perfectly as the electrical company says they do?
Thank-you for reading this and for any insight you have to give me.