(BIVN) – Hawaiian Electric is alerting customers that they may be receiving higher bills than last month.
In a Friday media release, the electric utility provided several reasons for the anticipated increases.
Hawaiian Electric announced in late March that it would scale back meter reading temporarily, in an attempt to avoid the spread of COVID-19 in the community. As a result, bills were estimated based on each customer’s respective usage in the prior month. “We apologize for any misunderstanding or inconvenience,” the company said.
“As a result of working together to minimize the spread, Hawaiian Electric was able to safely restart meter reading in May,” the Hawaiian Electric media release stated. “Customers are now receiving true-up bills that reflect the amount of electricity actually used. For accounts that reduced energy use during the pandemic, the true-up bill will account for any overestimation from the prior estimated bill. For accounts that increased energy usage, the true-up bill will account for any underestimation from the prior estimated bill.”
At the same time, Hawaiʻi “stay-at-home” orders resulted in many residents using more electricity in March, April and part of May. On average, residential customers used about 13 percent more electricity, the utility said, with above-average users consuming as much as 17 percent more.
Hawaiian Electric added that “lower oil prices mean lower electric rates this summer and should help offset higher usage, depending on how efficiently customers manage their use of air conditioners and other appliances.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hawaiian Electric says service disconnections for nonpayment have been suspended through June 30, “but customers should not wait until then to contact Hawaiian Electric if they are experiencing financial strain as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.” The company added:
Hawaiian Electric encourages customers who are having a difficult time paying a higher true-up bill to contact customer service so that a payment arrangement can be made to help smooth the payment of that bill over more than one month. No late fees or interest will apply at this time. While customers are responsible for paying for their bills, there are options available to help keep accounts current.