COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
It's already beginning to feel more like fall outside, which will soon turn into winter, which will cause a hike in most people's utility bills.
On top of this, there are some changes customers may be seeing.
Columbia Water and Light customers can expect to begin seeing a Power Cost Adjustment on their bill in October. Utility Services Manager Brandon Renaud said this is a tool to ensure utility rates stay stable despite fluctuating power costs.
"It allows to address power costs on a monthly basis," Renaud said. "Rather than having longer range, unplanned-for utility rate increases, we can address those costs in the short term."
He said customers will see this listed on their bill as "PCA-Residential" or "PCA-Commercial." In months with a lower demand for power, such as October, customers will receive a credit. In months with a higher supply, they will see a charge.
Meanwhile, Ameren Missouri has switched to their winter rates this month.
According to the utility company's website, winter rates begin in October and are slightly lower than summer rates. The website said customers pay 13.7 cents per kilowatt hour in the summer, compared to 9.3 cents or 6.3 cents in the winter.
Ameren program supervisor of energy efficiency, Amjad Alkfouf, said this change is due to a decreased demand for energy in the winter since many people use natural gas to heat their homes.
"They're usually lower than summer rates due to a decreased demand on energy," Alkfouf said.
This all comes as Columbia Water and Light, Boone Electric Cooperative and Ameren Missouri raised rates this spring and summer.
Columbia Water and Light increased rates in July. The city's website states a standard charge will increase from $16.31 per month to $22 per month.
"The impacts to our customers when considering utility rate increases, it's something that we really try to pay attention to," Renaud said. "Utility rate increases, they're not something that we enter into lightly."
Boone Electric raised rates on April 1, citing a future financial forecast as the reason for the increase. ABC 17 News previously reported the average customer with gas heat will see an increase of $190 a year, while those who use electric heat will see an increase of $235 a year.
"Everybody's probably had a little bit of time to adjust to that with the summer that we just had and especially with the September that we just had being a little warmer than usual," said Zach Smith, communications specialist at Boone Electric Cooperative. "Winter, along with summer, is one of those seasons where typically you're going to see electric use go up, mainly through heating the home."
Ameren Missouri increased its electric rates in July after a review request was approved by the Missouri Public Service Commission. The impact will be about $5 per month for average residential customers.
To help customers save money on utilities, these companies offer assistance programs.
Renaud said the city partners with Central Missouri Community Action and Boone County Health and Human Services office for weatherization and utility assistance.
Boone Electric offers free energy efficiency reviews to offer suggestions to increase energy efficiency.
Ameren also offers programs such as weatherization assistance.
All three companies say customers' bills will largely depend on their energy usage, citing many ways to cut back on energy usage, including:
- Turning back the thermostat
- Cleaning and changing the furnace filter
- Evaluating attic insulation
- Using less hot water