Multi-site companies receive hundreds of complex utility bills each month, including electric, natural gas, water, waste and telecom. Energy invoices in particular are full of varying rate and tariff structures, due dates, open/close charges, and more. Due to sheer volume and complexity, most AP departments are focused on simply getting payments sent out the door (and keeping the lights on) without auditing bills for errors or comparing charges to contracted rates. Utility companies can and do make mistakes – nearly 17 percent of all invoices received contain an error – so large companies can benefit from utility bill audits to recover lost savings.
A utility bill audit is the process of reviewing a company’s utility invoices to uncover billing errors. This work can be conducted by an in-house team, or by hiring a utility bill audit company. These audits are focused solely on errors in the invoices, everything from incorrect late fees, not opening/closing accounts on time, or being billed for the wrong rate plan. Audits can be conducted on any utility invoice, including natural gas, electric, water/sewer, or waste.
When left unchecked and unresolved, even the smallest billing errors can end up costing businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars. For example, just one wrong digit on a visual meter reading can send bills soaring, or an organization may be on a rate that does not match its needs. Even an unnoticed late fee can add extra costs if not resolved. It’s critical for companies – particularly with multiple locations – to have an in-house team or utility bill audit company to regularly audit utility bills before payment is made.
Errors uncovered during utility bill audits should be brought to the attention of utility providers, who will generally issue a refund for overcharges overpaid, or a credit toward future bills. It’s important to track and document the errors and resolutions internally to maintain a record of negotiations with the utility company. No billing error is ‘too old’ to seek a refund or credit, especially if that error costs a company money.
Large companies may not have a business case to hire internal experts to provide bill audit services, which is why it can be more cost-effective to hire a third-party utility bill audit company to work as an extension of the internal team. ENGIE Impact’s comprehensive utility bill audit services help clients realize long-term value. Having successfully delivered utility bill audits to clients nationwide for more than 20 years, ENGIE Impact's experts have successfully recovered millions of dollars in refunds, credits and future savings on behalf of clients.
Although the opportunities for savings through bill audits are numerous and varied, the two most common are utility billing errors and tariff rate optimization. Utilities make mistakes that can be very costly to consumers and are often overlooked. ENGIE Impact finds these errors and negotiates directly with utilities to generate refunds and/or credits for our clients for past billing errors. In addition, clients receive future savings associated with correcting the errors.
Any company – especially multi-site locations with monthly energy costs greater than $5,000 per month – should leverage utility bill audits as a tool to uncover errors, recover lost money, and plan for future savings.
ENGIE Impact’s analysis of our energy bills and data-driven action plans will not only help us to reduce resource costs, but also enable us to set more ambitious energy efficiency goals.
Joseph Koudelka Vice President - Global Supply Chain, Johnny Rockets