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Thread: Utility Advice

  1. #1
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    Default Utility Advice

    My wife and I have just purchased our first home (no more renting!), and now we're getting down to crunch time where we need to arrange for utility service and such.

    With being renters for so long, the only utility we've ever had to pay for in the past was electricity. We're moving into a townhouse, and I've been trying to look online at all the options for natural gas service and electricity service, but after reading everything I have, I think I'm more lost than ever. There's just so much going on, I don't even know where to begin.

    At this time, it really comes down to cost for us. We're going to be adjusting to having a mortgage, and the extra bills that come with owning a home, and as is the case with most people, the less we dish out, the better. I really don't know if I should go fixed rate, floating rate... contract, no contract.... I just need some help!

    Any advice that can be offered will be much appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2

    Default Utilities...

    My two cents: Power -> Enmax
    Gas ... hum ... harder ... I am with Enmax but others might be ok

    However, I like to have only one bill to pay

  3. #3

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    We have had quite a few threads on this already. My take is always, since they are similar, support the local company that us taxpayers still largely own with their head office in Edmonton, EPCOR/Capital Power, rather than the company owned by Calgarians (ENMAX).

  4. #4

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    I am with Enmax - for both gas and power. Power i have fixed rate of 5 cents. Gas I leave floating. I did switch for the power contract rate, and moved my gas at the same time as I prefer one less bill. I have had one big problem with Enmax as they 'forogt' to bill my gas for almost a year. They have now set up a payment plan for me to repay that gas....

  5. #5
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    Two things:
    1) Don't sign a long term contract at an inflated price. Floating rates for gas and electricity are cheap and likely to stay that way.
    2) Unfortunately, you can't do anything about the fees charged by the non-deregulated side of the industry. It's particularly bad with natural gas - the actual cost of gas will be a tiny fraction of your bill in summer, and not much more than half of your bill in winter if you live in a well insulated house with a high efficiency furnace.

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    power is actually quite cheap right now on the market rate (i'm with epcor). last month it was less than 5c/kwh.

    the fixed costs for both gas and electricity are a pain. i think the fixed costs on the gas side are close to 500$ a year. maybe 250-300$ a year for the electricity side. a lot of the net zero houses don't get the gas hookup for that reason and just rely on electricity for heat when required.

  7. #7
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  8. #8

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    Congratulations on your new home!
    We are with EPCOR and don't have a contract. My advice is that if you don't want any surprises each month and to better budget for your expenses I suggest going on the equal payment plans that they can offer you. Yes, the bill will still be the same during the summer months when you use less but that means that the winter months won't be outrageously expensive. At the end of the year if you have overpaid then that overage will be deducted before they recalculate the monthly payments for the upcoming year.

  9. #9

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    ^My mother in law used the equal payment plan and ended up underpaying for the winter months, actually. The amount she underpaid was required in a lump sum, which was a surprise, and one she couldn't budget for.

    My advice to the original post would be to do what you can to increase efficiency (i.e. replace the light bulbs with CFLs, buy a programmable thermostat so you aren't heating the house to room temperature if you're at work during the day, buy a timer for the car so you aren't feeding the block heater all night, invest in a high-efficiency washer and dryer if you can, etc.). I doubt there's a substantial difference between companies.
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  10. #10
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    EPCOR will be your default provider. They charge $13 dollars /Mwh though, because of that. I would recommend going on the deregulated market. Sign a floating contract with ENMAX or Spot power. EPCOR still does the meter reads and but the billing is done by ENMAX or the party you chose. I think the adminstration rate drops to about 4-6$ per/MWh when chosing a good plan.

    My condo board just signed a deal with ENMAX here in Edmonton and we are paying like 5.8 cents for 5 years or something crazy like that because we all use one meter and split it between each by sq/ft. EPCOR was &#@# us.

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    Keep in mind though that there are so many fixed or variable charges over and above what you are being charged for electricity with Enmax and I'd imagine others. My office has a contract with Enmax with the rate locked at $0.08/kwh, but because there are so many other charges it more typically works out to $0.12-15/hour depending on usage (the more we use, the lower the final rate). 1/3 or more of the bill is charges other than usage.

    I used to think I was getting hosed at my condo where we do simply pay a floating rate (typically in the low ten cent range), but as there's no other charges other than usage it's pretty comparable.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brentk View Post
    EPCOR will be your default provider. They charge $13 dollars /Mwh though, because of that. I would recommend going on the deregulated market.
    Electricity for residential customers is billed by the kWh, not the MWh. Current EPCOR Energy Services rates are available here: http://www.epcor.ca/en-ca/Customers/...s/default.aspx

    Electricity products and services are competitive. You are free to choose a retailer. Regulated wires services are not dependent upon the retailer you choose. You can find a listing of licensed Alberta retailers at www.ucahelps.gov.ab.ca or call 310-4UCA (toll free in Alberta).

    Regulated wires service charges are the same regardless of who you get your actual retail services from. EPCOR Distribution & Transmission still owns, operates & maintains the grid in Edmonton and will bill the same Distribution & Transmission charges regardless of who actually bills you. EPCOR D&T doesn't cut EPCOR Energy Services a deal for D&T, nor do they jack it up for Enmax or Direct Energy. That'd be abuse of the natural monopoly & one of the reasons D&T stayed heavily regulated.

    The only thing that a power retailer can change/modify is the rate per unit of actual consumption & any associated administration costs & fees. The rest isn't under their purview

    (DISCLAIMER: I work for EPCOR, in Energy Services. It's my job to know about this stuff like kcantor knows development or Thomas Hinderks knows planes. All comments regarding the utility industry are entirely my own and do not constitute any sort of endorsement by my employer whatsoever.)
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  13. #13
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    Thanks everyone for the replies. They were all a big help. Everything is now arranged and ready to go for possession.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcel Petrin View Post
    Keep in mind though that there are so many fixed or variable charges over and above what you are being charged for electricity with Enmax and I'd imagine others. My office has a contract with Enmax with the rate locked at $0.08/kwh, but because there are so many other charges it more typically works out to $0.12-15/hour depending on usage (the more we use, the lower the final rate). 1/3 or more of the bill is charges other than usage.

    I used to think I was getting hosed at my condo where we do simply pay a floating rate (typically in the low ten cent range), but as there's no other charges other than usage it's pretty comparable.
    Those are regulated rates, and our charged by the wsp (ie EPCOR) not ENMAX. Everything outside the actual commodity is a regulated rate that will be exactly the same not matter which provider you are with.

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    Actually no, in some circumstances things do change. My condo building for example has only a single electrical meter from Epcor, and the suites have their own individual sub-meters that keep track of their consumption. Since we're past a certain usage, we're considered a commercial/industrial consumer, and the individual suite owners pay a variable consumption charge with absolutely no other charges other than $8/month for a service charge. If I use 1000kwh and the rate was $0.12/kwh then my bill is $128.

  16. #16

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    That's submetering though & not directly comparable as you've got extra administration and equipment involved in your service.

    The regulation only goes 1 metering-level deep. What a customer decides to do with their power after paying for it from the utility is none of the power company's concern provided it's not illegal or contravenes the terms and conditions of service, including reselling the power. Marcel is a customer of his building, his building is the customer of the utility. They could put in the condo bylaws that Marcel has to pay his power bill in livestock and sacks of grain and that'd be between those two parties, same as any private business transaction.

    If you're paying 12˘/kWh, you're paying roughly double the market rate per unit of consumption with bundled D&T charges vs 5-6˘ and unbundled charges for someone who's not submetering. The extra administration inherent with submetering usually means higher bills on average, as they've got to markup the EPCOR bill to account for it (or someone is taking a loss & it's not the utility).
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  17. #17
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    Marcel something doesn't add up. They must be adding all the regulated admin fees into the cost. . PM me I can look into it for you.
    Last edited by Brentk; 07-12-2010 at 09:36 AM.

  18. #18

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    ^It's the bundling of the charges. As much as everyone maligns the explosion of line items on deregulated customer bills at least the information is required to be displayed in a way you can make meaningful comparisons between retailers.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brentk View Post
    Marcel something doesn't add up. They must be adding all the regulated admin fees into the cost. . PM me I can look into it for you.
    That's what's happening as far as I know, yes. The rate we're charged can vary a ton from month to month as well. It's certainly not optimal, but it's what we're stuck with. There were some pretty poor decisions made on both the mechanical and electrical side of things when the building was converted.

  20. #20

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    ^Phillips Lofts?
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  21. #21

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    So after reviewing my latest monthly gas/ power bill last night I decided its time to review my options once again. I am currently on fixed power (7cents ) and floating gas both with Enamx. After a few searches up come to a this webpage http://ucahelps.alberta.ca/price-summary.aspx There seems to be new service providers avaiable to me (Milner, Spot power)?? Has anyone made the switch yet? Pros / cons?

    Also most have a no fee 15 day cancellation on the fixed contract. Is there another hidden catch there Why would I not sign up for a fixed contract and then switch if prices fall lower?

    I know everonye needs are different jsut looking for some feedback to help make the decision. Also no need to get into the whole Epcor (edm) vs Enmax (Calg) debate save that for another thread please.

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    15 days isn't enough time to know much of anything about changes to market electricity rates.
    Last edited by etownboarder; 19-04-2011 at 01:10 PM. Reason: added "changes"

  23. #23

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    Enmax- is much cleaner and environmentally responsible natural gas , wind farms, solar etc

    Epcor = Dirty , Dirty cancer causing coal

  24. #24

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    After dealing with two service reps last night I would have to disagree. Enmax is dirty, their accounting system is horrible, they have screwed up my account 3 times in the last year and ahalf. Of course none of it is there fault, and I should have to sort it out and deal with some outrageous bills.

    I am still doing my research but looking at my old direct energy bills, they actually make sense, no so with the Enmax bill.

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by nosheep View Post
    Enmax- is much cleaner and environmentally responsible natural gas , wind farms, solar etc

    Epcor = Dirty , Dirty cancer causing coal
    Enmax = Calgary head office
    Capital Power = Edmonton head office

    You choose which one you want to support / see grow, I choose capital power / direct energy.

    (EPCOR = Edmonton head office = clean infrastructure - water, sewers, etc.)

  26. #26

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    I have a question - we just moved here at the beginning of April (from BC) and just got our first gas bill. We were surprised to see that the delivery costs were more than the amount of gas we actually used!! $30 dollar usage of gas = a $78 bill!? Is this normal? We never used gas in BC, but our energy bill is int he same situation - double the cost of energy used because of the delivery. Seems crazy to me!

  27. #27
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    ^ Unfortunately that is normal around here. Even in some of the colder months you will end up paying ATCO more for delivery than you pay your retailer for the gas itself. It's ridiculous.

  28. #28

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    so atco is the only delivery company then? I almost stopped breathing - I wish they would have told me that when we signed up! At least we would have been expecting it.

  29. #29

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    Yes Atco and Epcor (power) are the ones that own the pipes and power lines, therfore they get to charge whatever they need to make a profit. Quite the scam.

    Have you seen your Epcor bill yet? Wait until you see how much you MUST pay for garbage removal!

  30. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJMorrocco View Post
    Have you seen your Epcor bill yet? Wait until you see how much you MUST pay for garbage removal!
    You need to blame the city of Edmonton for that one if you aren't happy about it. All EPCOR is doing is passing on the cost. EPCOR does own the power lines in Edmonton, so will always take a "clip" for that.

  31. #31

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    Correct this is a COE charge. They blame the large increase since they removed funding from the property taxes. But still for $31 a month I can haul a lot of garabage to the dump / recycle center.

  32. #32
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    Default encor by epcor?

    does anyone use Encor? We just bought a newer duplex and are moving in 2 weeks. I have only had to pay for power (renter up until now) so I'm not really sure what the best deal is.
    Last edited by ameheu; 08-07-2015 at 03:05 PM. Reason: to be more clear

  33. #33
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    For the last year, Encor rates were higher than regulated rates for every month I think. I may have been over for one of them. Generally I think the regulated rate has proved to be the better choice, but it is unpredictable and can change.

  34. #34

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    My neighbor got a phone call from Just Energy the other day giving him the spiel about their rates etc. He said he would think about changing over to Just Energy and the women on the other end gave him a phone number to call if he decided to change to them. Anyway, when he looked at his Direct Energy bill he noticed that the number the women had giving him for Just Energy was the same number as on his Direct Energy Bill.
    What is with these utility companies?. Why are they so confusing?. Is Direct Energy and Direct Energy Regulated Services the same company.? Is Just Energy affiliated with Direct Energy and is Direct Energy Regulated Services another leg of the same dog. Man, could they make this anymore confusing.
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  35. #35
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    Top_Dawg absolutely loves this.



    http://ca/news/canada/edmonton/11000-epcor-bill-ewww.cbc.dmonton-1.4229861


    The best is this moronic employee.

    Kwan said the customer service representative suggested she ask her landlord for reimbursement for the bill.


    And of course its only after the company gets embarrassed on social media that they rediscover some common sense.

    "Something has gone off the rails in the enrolment process and we'll correct it," Le Riche said...



    Just priceless.

  36. #36

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    FWIW, a new & much improved self-service system went into place last week @ epcor.com. That being said, "foolproof" isn't really a thing & people will keep on signing up for the wrong address, despite multiple confirmation points during the process.

    Pro tip: If you have issues online, call in. Don't just mash "OK" prompts until you're done thinking it'll all work out in the end.
    Giving less of a damn than ever… Can't laugh at the ignorant if you ignore them!

  37. #37

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    Saw her post on facebook post on my feed yesterday before she went to social media....hilarious how the only way consumers get results these days is to publicly shame the company and if there's enough outrage, they'll "look into it".

    To be fair, she entered the wrong address so you can't expect EPCOR to magically know your unit number. But EPCOR should have had a solution when she called in about the bill instead of "too bad, so sad".

    And doesn't your account get flagged for potential grow ops when your power bill is that high?? =P

  38. #38
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    And if EPCOR was charging that one occupant with an entire building's worth of utilities for a month... what were they doing with the other occupants' accounts? Did they get free power?
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  39. #39

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    Sounds like she signed up for the only meter at the address which happened to be the main/house meter for the entire building. If the suites weren't showing up in EPCOR's system but the building itself was, it's because they're not individually metered by the utility & are sub-metered privately. The only directly-affected party would be the one she bumped outta service (likely the developer or condo board), though this could cause some issues down the sub-metering chain.

    What's extra funny is the end of the article:

    Kwan said she has changed utility companies going forward.
    If the building is privately sub-metered she couldn't (and shouldn't) have actually chosen EPCOR in the first place.
    Giving less of a damn than ever… Can't laugh at the ignorant if you ignore them!

  40. #40
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    Very doubtful that there is electric utility sub-metering in the building. It will in all likelihood be a Quadlogic or Intellimeter system, which the condo association uses to apportion power consumption to the various suites. There might be separate utility meters for the commercial spaces, but that's likely it. It's pretty rare for there to be individual utility meters in projects like this.

  41. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcel Petrin View Post
    Very doubtful that there is electric utility sub-metering in the building. It will in all likelihood be a Quadlogic or Intellimeter system, which the condo association uses to apportion power consumption to the various suites.
    Regardless of whether or not they're using full-blown meters doesn't change the fact that this building is sub-metered from the utility's perspective, nor that she's incapable of choosing EPCOR as her retailer.

    There's no Site IDs for any of the suites in the building, just the main meter, which is the one she went in for. How/why the developer/condo board chooses to divvy up their power bill is irrelevant from EPCOR's perspective as their obligation ends at the meter.
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  42. #42
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    I wasn't disagreeing with you.

  43. #43

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    Fair enough. Extra clarification just for edification's sake.

    EPCOR hasn't billed submetered sites directly in a month of Sundays at this point. I think the last place it was in effect was Northgate, pre-renos.

    I gotta say, I'm glad I live in a small enough building (54 suites) where full utility metering & billing is still an option.
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  44. #44
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    I may have just been a bit clumsy when I said "utility-submetering" in the first sentence. In any case, like I said, it's very unlikely that individual suites on any recently built large project would have their own utility meter for anything, whether that be electricity, water, or gas. As you mentioned, there would be one large "house" utility electrical meter and then a private sub-metering system that would be managed by the condo corporation (using someone like this: https://prioritymeter.com/ca/). Which would explain why she couldn't set her account up initially, or could only do so without a suite number. That's for electricity only. Water and gas are very rarely individually metered for a variety of reasons (whether by a proper utility meter, or a sub-metering system)

    Of course, Epcor would have some questions to answer about how easily someone hijacked a massive commercial account, accidentally or not. As for the tenant, I would imagine she didn't read some information given to her by Westrich or the condo corp that would have explained that she needed to set up an account with the sub-metering company, and not Epcor/Enmax/whoever. There's dozens of people living in the building that would have gone through this process already that didn't end up in this mess.

  45. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcel Petrin View Post
    In any case, like I said, it's very unlikely that individual suites on any recently built large project would have their own utility meter for anything,
    The Pearl has individual power meters, FWIW.

    Toss an address in here & see what Site IDs come up. There's one for every suite in the Pearl (11969 Jasper Ave), but only one for the Ultima (10238 103 St).
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