Amarillo, TX - The city's recent water bill controversy has many questioning how other utility companies prevent the same thing from happening.
Xcel and Atmos Energy say estimating is a general practice when it comes to utility bills.
Spokesman for Xcel Energy, Wes Reeves says they company estimates in a way that wouldn't take their customers by surprise.
"We'll look at a 12 month average or we'll look back over 12 months and say what was this customer paying or using a year ago. We also need to figure in temperature changes," said Reeves.
Reeves adds they Xcel tries not to estimate more than one month in a row.
"If we end up with a customer whose been estimated for two months, then we send a report to the Public Utility Commission and we explain why this customer was estimated. It's important that it doesn't happen on a ongoing basis because people will begin to question that and it will get in the way of the customer company relationship," said Reeves.
One way they prevent estimating is having 20 to 30 meter readers for the Amarillo area and over 60 for the region. If Xcel overestimates a bill, they say they have a plan to make up for the payment.
"If we underestimate the usage or overestimate, it catches up on the next bill. So, you either get a credit or pay a little bit more on the next bill," said Reeves.
It's a similar situation for Atmos Energy. Manager of Operations, Mike Culp says they typically estimate in the summer months when the gas consumption is lower.
Atmos takes an average of what a customer used last year and what they used last month... letting the customer know an estimate was used on their bill.
Both companies agree that with the recent city water bill issue, it's best to try and educate their customers on how they protect them.