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Understanding Your Energy Bill

Winter Energy Bills

In Alberta, the average home uses a lot more natural gas and electricity during the winter. It’s no surprise that the colder it gets, the more energy you need to keep your home comfortable. But there are other reasons why you might see higher bills in winter:  

  • Demand. You—and your neighbours—use more energy at peak times. In fact, Alberta hit an all-time record for electricity consumption on February 9, 2021. 
  • Supply. Cold weather, wind, and unplanned outages can impact supply. There were several unplanned powerplant outages in February. 
  • Distribution & Transmission. There was a mandatory distribution rate increase in January 2021, and part of D&T charges are tied to consumption.  
  • To help Albertans in this difficult time, ATCO has petitioned the AUC (Alberta Utilities Commission) to freeze distribution rates at 2020 rates. But if you’re in a different distribution area, your D&T rates have likely increased. 
  • Carbon Tax. The Carbon Tax rate increased in April, 2020 when Albertan's don’t use a lot of natural gas. Since the tax is tied to natural gas consumption, it didn’t make a noticeable difference on your bills until the cold weather hit.   
  • Albertans use about 2 or 3 GJ of natural gas in the summer, but closer to 10 or 12 GJ a month in the winter.   
  • Most Albertans will receive a rebate on their income tax to offset this amount, but it does come as a shock when you see it on your winter statements.   

 

Even though there are a lot of factors influencing your winter energy bills in Alberta, we’ve put together some winter energy-saving tips to help you lower your consumption, and a few things to watch for around your home

How to read your retail energy bill

The first step in taking control of your energy use is understanding what you pay for. We want to make our retail services as clear, simple and straightforward as we can.

Charges from several different sources are included on the bill your retailer sends you. Here’s an explanation of our invoice, so you can understand exactly what’s included, and where those charges come from.

What is the Rate Rider Deferral Fee on my electricity and natural gas bill? 

Between March 18, 2020, and June 18, 2020, the Utility Payment Deferral Program helped Albertans whose finances were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This ensured no Albertans were cut off from utility services during a sensitive time for public health.  

As of June 30, 2021, the Government of Alberta has added a small, temporary rate rider payment to recuperate the remaining unpaid balances. The rate rider fee is applied to all utility customers for both natural gas and electricity. As a provincewide initiative, this change affects all Alberta utility customers and providers, including ATCOenergy. 

No one likes an extra fee, but luckily the rate rider costs less than a coffee! Average households are expected to be charged a fraction of a dollar on electricity and natural gas bills for a few months. This fee will be in effect from November 1, 2021, until the remaining balances are collected, ending no later than June 18, 2022.  

  • Retailer

    Account holder

    There must be at least one account holder. You can add or remove another person from your account at any time by calling 1.844.687.2826, sending an email to inquiries@atcoenergy.com, or using our live web chat. And if you're moving within Alberta, we move with you. Let us know the new address and we'll transfer your current plan to your new location.

    Paying your bill

    Your bill can be paid via online banking, telephone banking, at the bank, automated bank withdrawal, one-time credit card payment, pre-authorized credit card payments or by sending payment through the mail. You can also sign-up for email bill notice by calling 1.844.687.2826 or emailing inquiries@atcoenergy.com.

    Credits

    Any promotional credits or other discounts will appear on the first page of your statement under the Account Summary and be deducted from your Energy Total.  You'll see a CR next to any line that's a credit. 

    Energy Charges

    This line shows how many kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity or gigajoules (GJ) of natural gas you used during a specified period of time, multiplied by your plan's energy rate.'

    ATCO Advantage Plan

    Residential customers on the ATCO Advantage plan won’t see a monthly administration fee. They’ll see a flat daily fee to access Alberta’s wholesale energy rates.

    Administration Fee

    This fee covers the costs related to billing for electricity and providing customer service. (Did you know? ATCOenergy has some of the lowest administration fees in the province.)

    Energy Total

    You will see the total charge for energy used during the billing period. Some billing periods extend over two months, and it will depend on which billing cycle you are on.

  • Delivery

    Distribution companies are responsible for getting electricity and natural gas to your home or business. Distribution charges include the cost of maintaining the infrastructure needed to provide you with safe and reliable energy when you need it.

    Your distributor is determined by where you live in Alberta. Electricity and natural gas distribution rates are regulated by the Alberta Utilities Commission.

    Delivery Charges

    Distribution companies calculate their rates based on the cost of operating the distribution system and delivery of energy to homes and businesses. A portion of these charges is fixed based on the number of days in the billing cycle, while the rest fluctuate based on your consumption. Delivery and distribution charges are approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission.

    Municipal Franchise Fee (natural gas)

    This fee is set by your municipality as a charge for natural gas facilities on municipal property. Your Distributor remits this amount to your local municipality.

    Local Access Fee (electricity)

    This fee is set by your municipality as a charge for electrical facilities on municipal property. Your distributor remits this amount to your local municipality.

    Rate Riders

    These are temporary credits or charges approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission to adjust for over or under collection of approved costs.

    Rural Electrification Association (REA) Charge (electricity)

    A monthly charge for recovery of the REA monthly operating and maintenance costs and funding of the REA operating reserve.

    Estimated Read

    This is the latest estimated meter read provided by your Distributor.

    Last Actual Read

    This is the last actual meter read provided by your Distributor.

    Delivery Total

    The Distributor's total charge to deliver energy to your home or business.

  • Other

    Electricity

    Electricity is produced in large power plants. Transmission lines are the high-voltage wires and towers used to transmit power from the power plants to the local distribution systems. Distribution lines deliver low voltage energy to neighbourhoods so homes and businesses can use it.

    Distribution companies are responsible for delivering electricity to your home, measuring your consumption, and sending their charges to retailers to pass on to customers.

    Retailers receive your consumption information from the distribution company, and are responsible for your energy rates and billing you on a monthly basis.

    Natural Gas

    Natural gas is drilled from wells and refined at processing plants. High-pressure transmission pipelines transport natural gas to major markets. Low-pressure distribution pipelines deliver natural gas to areas for use by homes and businesses.

    Distribution companies are responsible for delivering natural gas to your home, measuring your consumption, and sending their charges to retailers to pass on to customers.

    Retailers receive your consumption information from the distribution company, and are responsible for your energy rates and billing you on a monthly basis.

    Meter Number and Readings

    This is the number attached to the meter installed at your premises. Distribution companies do their best to provide actual meter readings on a monthly basis. From time to time they may be unable to access your meter to get an actual meter reading. If the meter is reading incorrectly, please contact your distribution company. Their number can be found on the back of your energy bill.

    Site ID

    Every property in the province of Alberta with an electricity or natural gas meter has a unique site ID number assigned to each meter. The site ID number corresponds to the address at which the meter is located and is used by power companies to keep track of customers and the amount of energy they use.

    Account Number

    Your account number is a unique 13-digit numeric identifier that authenticates your identity and enables payment of your bill. You can find this number on the first page of your ATCOenergy bill in the top right corner. If you can't find your account number, please contact our call centre at 1.844.687.2826.