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Here’s What Wasn’t Included In The ABC13 Story

When it comes to electricity, members have two goals: They want their lights to come on when they turn on the switch and they want to pay as little as possible for that electricity.

The cynics may not believe it, but at Sam Houston Electric Cooperative, we also want the lights to come on when you flick the switch and we want to deliver it to you at the lowest rate possible.

Nothing makes people angrier than to see a bill that is higher than expected. We’ve been talking with members who have voiced concern on social media and who have called our office.

One thing we’ve learned is that the headlines and rants are often inaccurate.

The truth is your electric bill is likely about the same or lower this month than it was exactly one year ago.

Disturbed members showed their bills to ABC13 in two news reports. One bill was actually 19 percent lower than it was one year ago. The other bill was higher than one year ago, due to the consumer using 9 percent more electricity this year. ABC13 failed to mention that in both of their reports.

Our records do not support the claims that a vast number of bills have tripled or doubled over the previous month and certainly not over one year ago.

Here are some additional truths:

  • Every month there is a portion of the bill that Sam Houston EC controls.
  • A portion of the bill is controlled by the power generators.
  • A portion is controlled by the customer (members).

On every bill there is a line that says “base cost.” That amount is $12.75 and has not changed since 2006. It is one of the items Sam Houston EC controls.

On every bill there is a line that says “delivery cost.” This cost also has not changed since 2006. It pays for maintaining lines, poles and substations so power reaches your home.

Every bill has a line that says “energy cost.” This amount reflects the cost of energy we purchase for our customers (members). It changes periodically and accounts for a small portion of why a bill goes up and down. Part of the increase in that monthly cost is the result of new rules from the Federal government and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as they require the generators to spend more money for devices on the coal powered electric plants that generate 60-70 percent of the electricity that you use.

If you look at statistics:

  • The energy cost of that power increased from June 2012 and peaked in June 2014.
  • From June 2014 until recently, the cost has been declining.
  • The cost in January 2015 is only 2 percent higher than in December 2014.

The portion of the bill that the customer controls is how much they use. It is a certainty all across America that customers will use more electricity on the coldest days and the hottest days of the year.

ABC13 ran a news report featuring a member who said his bill this month was nearly double what he paid last month, and he questioned how could that be.

This is the image that ABC13 showed of the customer’s bill. The bar chart shows his bill was actually 19 percent lower than it was one year ago, yet that was not included in the story.

Additionally, his bill this month, according to the bill he showed Miya Shay of ABC13, is close to his average bill. Out of the past 13 months, his bill was lower in only five other months.

Something else to know about the ABC13 story that you did not see on the air. The very first customer (member) interviewed by Miya Shay came in our office and said he was interviewed. He told us his quote to Shay was, “Yes, my bill is higher, but it has been cold, and I used more electricity.”

The reporter and her cameraman stayed in our parking lot all afternoon, trying to find someone to support her storyline, with almost no success.

Additionally, the ABC13 anchor said about claims of higher bills that, “There is no clear explanation why.” ABC13 is wrong. Cold weather causes people to use more energy and cold weather causes more of the heat in the home to escape through cracks around doors and windows.

Reporter Miya Shay did acknowledge the impact of weather on electric bills in this Facebook post.

“I’m interested in comparing your usages year to year. Our weather team told us it was warmer in Dec. than Jan., so it is possible you saw a lower bill in Dec. and then a spike in Jan. Comparing year to year would be more accurate.”

We agree with Shay and would like to have seen this important fact included as a central point in the news story.

She goes on to say on Facebook, “I haven’t seen any rate/odd charges, other than an increase in usage.”

We agree.

Additionally, ABC13 ran a story the day before that featured a customer with a bill for, “$900 for one month” of what the reporter described as, “basic service.” What reporter Foti Kallergis failed to point out in the report about the “basic service” was the house featured is a large house with additional facilities on the property that also consume power, resulting in electricity consumption that is much larger than the average home.

Also, like the bill seen in the report by Shay, the bar graphs show this customer’s pattern of usage. The bill in question by the reporter indicates the consumer used 9 percent more electricity than one year ago. That, combined with the slight increase in the pass through cost of power makes her bill higher than one year ago. The increase, however, is not the result of any change by Sam Houston EC.

We understand the frustration of members. We are members also and pay our bills just like you.

Here are some things we are doing to help:

  • If you are having trouble paying your bill, please call us. We will work with our members.
  • One helpful option is to give us a call and ask that your bill be converted to our monthly averaging system, known as Budget Billing. This eliminates the frustration of your bill being higher one month than another. Budget Billing also gives you more control over your family budget.
  • If your bill is higher and you’re looking for ways to reduce your energy consumption, visit TogetherWeSave.com or call us and ask one of our experts to perform an energy audit at your home. You’d be amazed how much more electricity you use when there are cracks around doors and windows.
  • Keep your thermostat at 68 degrees. Experts say this is the best temperature. Turning off all of the heat at night and then reheating your home in the morning uses more electricity than if you set the thermostat and just leave it alone.

Customers can reach us at 1-800-458-0381.