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Questions to Ask Your Electric Company
As a homeowner or renter, your electric company is possibly the most important utility company you'll deal with. By asking the following questions, you can ensure you're getting the most from your power company.
What is the fee for connecting residential or commercial properties?
A fee is charged when a customer initially connects to the electric grid. Amounts vary depending on the property's residential or commercial use.
What sort of service plans do you offer?
Find out what sorts of service plans are offered and what specifically is covered. Are there any hidden charges?
Will you provide the service or delegate it to another energy provider?
Some energy companies handle installation and equipment repairs themselves, while others use a contractor. If troubleshooting is provided by a different energy company, it can increase response time for the customer, since the other company may prioritize its own customers.
Is there an internal wiring maintenance agreement available?
Most contracts with your electric company cover outdoor wiring only. Sometimes, a company may offer an indoor wire maintenance agreement through a subcontractor.
Are their budget plans available?
Varying environmental factors can significantly affect power consumption throughout the year. Air conditioners and electric heat, for example, increase energy bills. Budget plans allow customers to evenly distribute their payments so they pay a steady rate each month, based on annual usage.
How do you read the electric meter?
Some companies read meters, which measure energy consumption, remotely. Others will require a service person to enter your house.
Are you the primary electric company in my area?
Increasing deregulation of utilities has translated to more competitive prices for the consumer. Sometimes, it pays to shop around for the cheapest rate.
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ELECTRIC-COMPANIES IN/NEAR PORTLAND
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"Unprofessional, started a job and didn't finish it. Left us without electricity to our house for over a week! Doesn't return calls and wasted our time and money. ..."
The term electric company is used in two senses. It is sometimes used to refer to contractors who install electrical equipment and wiring. These contractors may work on residential or commercial properties. They lay wires, install cables and secure panels, both indoors and outdoors. They may also install and repair important appliances such as heaters.
However, the more common use is to refer to the company that provides power. These companies may be part of a utility company that also supplies water, sewage and natural gas. They may own the generating plant or only handle the actual distribution of power.
As technology changes, so do power plants. Solar and other renewable sources are slowly taking over from older fossil fuel plants. Environmental concerns are also fueling a change in energy creation methods. A solar plant requires a different set of skills to operate than a coal-fired one.
Electricity and utility companies require energy workers to handle the physical aspects of distribution. One major issue faced is storms bringing down power lines. Customers who are left without power need to be reconnected as quickly as possible. Transformers change the voltage of power from the very high levels used for transmission to those suitable for end uses. These require skilled technicians to maintain them.
Billing is also important. Electricity companies may be required to set rates within certain ranges. Local governments are often keen to ensure residents get cheap power. Traditionally, a meter reader would visit a property at intervals and check on power usage. However, more and more companies use automated meter reading systems, which require no site visits. The billing department also needs to handle situations where a customer is generating their own power.
Electricity is vital to the modern world, but how it is generated and even who is generating it is changing rapidly.