What your bill means

Published 9:32 pm Monday, October 19, 2009

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series on how to save on energy costs this winter season.

It’s a big part of your monthly bills, and yet some people may not even know how it got there.

Electric bills are just one part of any bill cycle, and it’s one of the more confusing to figure out.

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“It’s kind of convoluted how it’s all calculated,” said Chuck Penn, media and community relations manager for Dominion Virginia Power.

Taking the most basic and simplistic way of breaking down a bill, a monthly statement is based on about two-thirds of a primary base rate and one-third based on a fuel rate.

Both of these rates are regulated by the Virginia State Cooperative Commission, which has to permit any increase a power company wants to make in the rates.

“We’re a regulated industry,” Penn said. “Dominion and other companies have to have the State Cooperative Commission and get their sanctioning of any rate increases.”

In every statement, customers can see the regulated price per kilowatt per hour or electricity supply service, which are based on the rate schedule and individual usage for the past year.

Additionally, on every statement, customers can see the costs associated for the following: electricity supply service, which is the cost associated with the generation and transmission of electricity; generation, the cost for the production of electricity from Dominion’s power plants; transmission, the cost for moving electricity from Dominion’s power plants to the substations; and fuel, which is the cost for fuel used to produce electricity.

If customers are interested, a complete breakdown of a bill is available on the Dominion Virginia Power’s Web site, www.dom.com. A sample bill is provided where customers can click individual aspects of the bill for more details. Additionally, people can call customer service representatives at 1-888-667-3000 for more inquiries.