Electric Bill by Bill Foy

In this week's mail, the electric bill from Appalachian Power. I always sort of hold my breath as I open the monthly statement. Since I project in a monthly budget all my anticipated expenses, I'm always trying to guess about how much the electric bill should be for the month. Normally, July is one of the biggest of the entire year, given that we're running the air conditioning 24/7.

This July was certainly one of the hottest on record. I think we actually reported that for Lynchburg, it was the 8th hottest ever. You won't get any argument from me on that fact.

Then there was that warning from APCo several weeks ago that they were forced to estimate tens of thousands of customer bills due to the storm of June 29th. All of their meter readers were apparently busy working to help restore power.

So you can imagine my delight when I opened the bill. Not only was it $30 less than I budgeted, but it was also nearly $60 less than it was in July 2011. Quick. Check to see if it was an estimate that would only catch up with us next month. Nope, this was an actual reading according to the bill.

My wife was the first to offer the simple explanation I hadn't considered. With the electricity off nearly 6 days, wasn't it safe to assume I'd used 20% less power in July? That seems reasonable. I can't say for sure whether that explains the lower bill. APCo has already said it expects to ask the State Corporation Commission for rate increase to recover costs from the storm. But the utility also says losses incurred from not having hundreds of thousands of meters running could not be part of any rate hike request.

Looking back on those six days without electricity, I'm pretty sure the $30 savings didn't offset the misery of no power and no AC. But I'll chalk it up as one small, little benefit received during some of the most uncomfortable days of the summer of 2012.