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Example Utility Bill Explanations*

Depending on where you live, your electric service is designated as Urban or Rural. All costs, whether the cost per kWh, therm, customer charges, etc., are Public Service Commission (PSC) approved. The utilities are not allowed to randomly pass these on to customers without PSC approval. 

Electric Charge Explanation

How Is the Electricity I Use Measured?
Each month, a bill for electric service includes the following charges:

Energy Charge: for the amount of electricity you use. Electricity is measured in kilowatt-hours (abbreviated KWH). One kilowatt-hour is equal to the power used by ten 100-watt bulbs for one hour. The average charge for electricity is $0.1396 per kilowatt-hour. For more information about KWH, check out Measuring and Quantifying Energy.

Customer Charge: a fixed charge that does not vary with the amount of electricity you use. This charge covers the cost of making electric service available to the customer. It includes the cost of meters, meter readings, connecting electric service lines to customers, and billing and record-keeping expenses. This is a fixed cost, regardless of how much (or how little) electricity is used during the month.

Power Cost Adjustment or Fuel Surcharge: Fuel surcharges appear on the bill when we are recovering additional electricity fuel costs due to fluctuations in natural gas and coal over a given period of time. They are billed based on the customer’s consumption per KWH over that period of time.

Public Benefits Customer Charge: Utilities have different names for this charge, such as non-taxable customer charges. This is a fee that all utilities in Wisconsin collect to help fund the Wisconsin Public Benefits Program, Focus on Energy. Focus on Energy is a public-private partnership offering energy information and services to energy utility customers throughout Wisconsin. These services are delivered by a group of firms contracted by the Wisconsin Department of Administration’s Division of Energy. The goals of this program are to encourage energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy, enhance the environment, and ensure the future supply of energy for Wisconsin. For information about Focus on Energy services and programs, call 1-800-762-7077. 

Gas Charge Explanation

How Is the Gas I Use Measured?
The amount of gas flowing through your meter is measured in hundred cubic feet (CCF). But you are charged based on the therm factor or the average heat content of the gas delivered to your home or the therms you use. One hundred cubic feet (1 CCF) of natural gas equals approximately 100,000 British Thermal Units (Btus) or 1 therm. One Btu represents the amount of heat needed to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit at sea level. The therm factor adjusts for cases when the energy in the fuel is more or less than this. The therm factor varies from month to month between a value slightly below 1.000 to a value slightly above 1.000.  For more information about therms, go to Measuring and Quantifying Energy.

Your bill shows how much gas (CCF) you used for the past month and a calculation that converts the amount of gas used (CCF) to reflect the heat content of the gas (therms). The heat content of gas may vary. The utility determines the heat content of gas received from their supplier during the 30 days preceding your last meter reading date. The result is shown on your monthly bill.

Cost per Therm (Distribution Service Rate): This covers the cost of delivering gas to your home on the utility’s system. Handling efforts include depressurizing the gas, adding odor, and getting the gas to the customer. This charge is based on the volume of natural gas used each month. The average charge for natural gas is $0.2226 per therm.

Customer Charge: a fixed charge that does not vary with the amount of gas you use. It includes the cost of meters, meter readings, connecting natural gas pipelines to customers, and billing and record-keeping expenses. This is a fixed cost, regardless of how much (or how little) natural gas a customer uses during the month.

Gas Supply Acquisition Rate: This covers the costs associated with buying gas, including the cost of storing gas until Public Service needs to deliver it to customers. You pay 2.602 cents ($0.02602) per therm for this service.

Gas Base Rate: This covers the estimated cost of gas and all related costs to ensure a reliable gas supply for customers. It also includes contract costs for securing adequate pipeline capacity to transport gas to this service area and adequate storage space for gas until it’s needed. Annual estimated costs are spread out evenly over 12 months and listed as the Gas Base Rate. You pay 55.675 cents ($0.55675) per therm for this service. 

Return to the Utility Bill.

*Most of these definitions were based on the Wisconsin Public Service billing process for the state of Wisconsin. If your electric bill comes from a different utility provider, please visit their website for more specific information relating to your charges.