Why Traditional Utility Bills Could Be Costing C&I Operations More Than They Think

As Commercial and Industrial (C&I) operations seek ways to optimize site economics, strengthen resilience, and reduce emissions, plant managers will face an uphill battle if they rely solely on traditional utility bills.


Simply put, traditional utility bills don’t offer plant managers any help with these energy objectives for individual facilities, let alone fleetwide power systems.


These vague bills fail to identify and address the underlying causes of power system inefficiencies and high energy costs. And without more detailed energy data, C&I plant managers will find it challenging to implement cost-saving measures or effectively deploy new technologies, such as distributed energy resources (DERs), to reduce energy consumption and cut carbon emissions.


We created Heila iQ to provide C&I plant managers with robust reports of direct demand, consumption, and power quality measurements to supplement the glaring inadequacies in traditional utility bills. With this level of detailed, data-driven insights, C&I facility managers of individual sites and multi-property portfolios can make smarter energy investment choices than ever before.


C&I Utility Bill Shortcomings


    1. Lack of Transparency: They’re notoriously difficult to decipher, leaving many customers unable to understand energy usage and costs fully. The bills typically only show a single line item for total electricity usage and a single energy rate without additional details about when and how a facility or a fleet uses this energy.
    2. Obscured Costs: A lack of detailed energy usage data leaves C&I facilities vulnerable to hidden costs, such as peak and off-peak demand charges or the cost of transmission and distribution. Additionally, some utility bills do not account for other expenses, such as demand charges, taxes, and fees, which can significantly increase the overall cost of electricity.
    3. Inaccurate Data: Mistakes and errors are not uncommon since many utility billing processes still rely on manual data entry and calculations. Whether due to meter-reading errors, billing miscalculations, or incorrect rate structures, these can lead to under- or over-billing, an incomplete understanding of usage and costs, or a higher-than-expected electricity rate. Additionally, some facilities may not be aware of the various fees, taxes, and surcharges associated with their electric bills.
    4. No Insights: They contain no mechanisms to track customers’ energy usage over time. Emergency capital expenditures, price variances, excessive reactive maintenance, and emissions-reduction programs can all add additional costs to a C&I facility’s electricity bill. These costs don’t appear on a traditional utility bill and can be hard to identify without tracking, measuring, and analyzing incidents over time to gain the insights needed to implement necessary adjustments.
    5. No Actionable Recommendations: They offer no recommendations on the cost-saving measures plant managers can take to improve energy resiliency, efficiency, and sustainability, such as deploying DERs, like solar panels, battery storage, or generators. Nor do the bills provide information on carbon emissions or how to lower them. This data gap leaves plant managers needing more insights into which energy-saving technologies are available, how much money they could save by implementing them, or how much they can reduce their emissions.


    No Energy Data Insights Mean No Energy Cost Savings


    While the shortcomings might seem trivial at first glance, these data deficiencies can severely restrict potential avenues for unlocking cost savings. Any single problem increases a plant manager’s difficulty in identifying and fixing issues like outdated equipment or inefficient processes, or budgeting for future energy needs. Collectively, these shortcomings will make it impossible to achieve savings.


    For example, strategic time-of-use (TOU) pricing and peak demand scheduling can present opportunities for making more informed energy-use decisions and investments to reduce energy costs. Better TOU pricing allows businesses to pay lower rates for energy used during off-peak hours. Peak demand response helps companies control energy costs by limiting consumption during high-demand periods. Without more detailed energy usage data, plant managers can struggle to determine the optimal times to shift operations.


    Additionally, C&I plant managers considering investing in renewable energy sources to reduce reliance on the aging power grid must rely on something other than utility bills for the usage data and cost-savings potential of deploying onsite DERs. Successful installation and performance require accurate system sizing that precisely calculates current and future energy needs, initial investment estimate, potential optimized energy production, and a return on investment (ROI) timeline—all of which are absent on a traditional utility bill.


    For plant managers to meet their energy goals, they’ll need access to more detailed energy data and the ability to decode this complex technical information to leverage the cost-saving potential of energy-saving processes and technologies.


    Heila iQ Delivers Better Electricity Reports


    C&I plant managers will need a more active and holistic approach than utility bills allow. This approach involves implementing strategies such as energy audits, monitoring energy use in real-time over an extended period, and investing in new technologies.


    But one-off audits and a few smart meters will only go so far without the corresponding actionable insights and recommendations on what that data means.


    Heila iQ supplies C&I plant managers with a more robust, detailed, and intelligent energy report than the basic bills that utilities distribute.


    Using advanced energy monitoring, Heila iQ gathers granular energy usage and cost information and delivers these readings in straightforward metrics and visualizations for quick comprehension. After installing Heila iQ at a single site or a fleet, plant managers receive monthly and regular summarized reporting covering:

    1. Average hourly load profile
    2. Peak demand
    3. Full energy usage chart
    4. Power quality monitoring and measurements
    5. Phase imbalance
    6. Indicative estimates of operational savings based on potential DER deployment
    7. Trends and forecasts
    8. And more


    The platform translates each metric into non-technical and actionable insights and data-driven recommendations to create a roadmap of processes and technologies for reducing energy costs. Then, by tracking energy metrics over time, Heila iQ can detect usage patterns and anomalies to hone in on specific objectives, such as power quality control, scheduling adjustments, or equipment considerations.


    Want to find out if your utility bill might be costing you more than you think? Contact us to learn more about Heila iQ.