Some Elkins Water Customers May See Higher Bills
Accounts with past estimated usage are most likely to see increases
Elkins, W. Va., May 21, 2021: Water meters are being replaced throughout Elkins, and some customers may see higher bills as a result. This is not because of a rate increase or inaccurate meters but because certain customers’ bills were being estimated, and their actual water usage has increased in the meantime.
City of Elkins uses remote-read water meters. Instead of needing to be read manually by city personnel, these meters transmit reading data (i.e., how much water has been used) to be collected by a roving vehicle as it passes each of the city’s approximately 4,400 water-customer locations.
Water meters are being replaced for all 4,400 City of Elkins water customers because they are out of warranty, and their data transmitters were beginning to fail. Approximately half have been replaced already.
When meters stop transmitting, City of Elkins water bills are based on estimated readings. Estimated readings are the average of the most recent 12 months’ bills.
Customers who were receiving estimated bills might see increases once their meter has been replaced and their actual usage is once again being received by the city’s Utility Billing department.
When water bills increase after meter replacement, the usual reason is that water usage was previously being estimated, and it rose during the period of estimation. Such increases could result from the household adding new members or appliances. It could also result from undetected leaks that developed during the period of estimation.
These increased charges do not result from recapturing the entire under-billed amount, which the city does not do. Instead, with the new meters in place, accounts that were being estimated are now being billed based on actual usage data each period. Accounts whose usage increased during the period of estimation will therefore see higher bills going forward.
Paper bills for accounts being estimated indicate this by showing an “e” next to the usage amount. Electronic bills do not indicate whether an account’s charges are being estimated, but customers can call Utility Billing to find out. The W. Va. Public Service Commission (PSC), which regulates water and other utilities in this state, does not specify how long utilities may use estimated readings.
City of Elkins water customers with questions about their bills or who wish to inquire about setting up a payment plan are encouraged to contact Utility Billing.
- email@example.com; 304-636-1414, ext. 1720
- firstname.lastname@example.org; 304-636-1414, ext. 1715
Additional information and answers to frequently asked questions about the water meter replacement project may be found here: www.bit.ly/ElkinsWaterMeters