Many South African businesses are paying too much for electricity as a result of incorrect billing. This according to Mila Loubser, Head of Energy Reporting at Energy Partners, who says that businesses that have reduced their electricity consumption, could qualify for substantial tariff reductions with their local municipality.
Loubser comments that businesses should not assume that their tariffs will automatically be lowered once they have reigned in their energy consumption. “Municipalities often do not detect that a business has reduced its energy footprint, either because they are using old equipment such as mechanical meters, or they have a billing platform with little flexibility to accommodate changes in the tariffs,” she says.
“There are also many cases where municipalities are adding the load of other users to the electricity bill of the business in question. This often happens to tenants in shopping malls, or areas where there are multiple units and small loads that landlords are allocating to tenants,” Loubser continues. Other cases involve possible clerical errors, says Loubser. “We have one client, for example, who continued being charged winter tariffs throughout the whole of summer, which caused massive over-billing.”
“The best advice for companies, is to talk to the right people at the municipality, otherwise they will sit in queues for days. It is also vitally important to prepare all possible data in advance (their surveyor general diagram, account info and meter number). Ideally, the business can also include the check meter half hour readings, which is usually the best proof to the municipality that there is merit in their application.” She adds: “The best course of action is to involve an energy manager to conduct an audit of the company’s electricity spend. The consultant can calculate the effective rate, find out whether the business qualifies for tariff reductions, and whether there is room to further reduce energy consumption. Finally, the consultant will help the business owner to negotiate successfully with the municipality.”
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