The following is an excerpt from an Illinois Commerce
REPORT CONCERNING THE BILLING PRACTICES OF PUBLIC
UTILITIES PROVIDING GAS SERVICE TO CONSUMERS IN ILLINOIS
ILLINOIS COMMERCE COMMISSION
Text of full report (43 kB MS-Word document)
The meter on a gas customers
service and the gas bill associated with it are the most direct connection the utility has
with its customers. The Commission is charged with the responsibility of ensuring
that utilities provide accurate metering to their customers. To meet this
responsibility, the Commission adopted certain minimum standards in 83 Illinois
Administrative Code 500 that all gas utilities must follow for testing the accuracy of
Code Part 500, Sections
180 through 215, contain the Commissions minimum standards that all natural gas
utilities must use to operate their meter testing facilities and to test their in-service
meters. Code Part 500 also requires authorized representatives of the Commission to
check the utilities compliance with the above requirements at least every three
years. Below is a summary of the various Commission requirements and the actions
the Commission takes to verify gas utility compliance.
The Commission requires
all new or repaired gas meters, when installed, to operate no more than two percent slow
and not more than one percent fast. The Commission allows customers concerned about
the accuracy of their meters to request the utility to remove the meter and test its
accuracy without charge, provided the meter in question was not previously tested within
one year of the request. Customers also have the option of requesting a Commission
referee test. A referee test requires a representative of the Commission to oversee
the removal and testing of the customers meter. However, the customer must
make a written application and pay a prescribed fee to the Commission for this
service. If the utility finds the accuracy of the meter to exceed two percent fast,
then the utility reimburses the customer for the fee paid to the Commission.
The Commission requires
all gas utilities to issue refunds to customers whose meters are more than four percent
fast. The refund is based on the prior six months of readings from that meter.
If the meter is more than four percent slow, then the utility has the option of
rendering a bill to the customer for the amount not recorded for the prior six months.
Most gas companies employ
sample testing to verify the accuracy of their in-service residential gas meters.
Sample testing involves grouping meters in lots that consist of the same type,
manufacturer, and size of meters, based upon their year of installation. After a
meter lot has been in service for nine years, the utility removes and tests randomly
selected meters from the lot each year. If a meters accuracy is found to be
more than three percent fast or slow, then the meter is considered to fail the accuracy
test. If enough meters within the sample fail the accuracy test, then the utility
must remove and test the entire meter lot. The Commission does not allow utilities
that do not employ sample testing to keep a meter in-service longer than ten years without
an accuracy test.
At the end of each year,
the Commission verifies that each utility performs accuracy tests on all of the meters
that required testing. On a three-year cycle, the Commission physically audits the
operations of utility meter testing shops. During the audit, the Commission verifies
all the meter testing shop equipment has up to date certification to national standards
and that the utility is in compliance with all Commission testing and record keeping
requirements. The Commission maintains its own meters to verify the accuracy of
utility testing equipment. Utilities must maintain their testing equipment to
within one-half of one percent accuracy.