News10NBC investigates: Electric vehicle drivers struggle with RG&E programs
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – More people are choosing to drive electric vehicles and RG&E has programs that offer deals on electric costs for those who charge at home during certain times of day, but some folks trying to enroll in these programs are running into roadblocks.
Earlier this year, Andrew Schiller and his husband decided to upgrade to a hybrid Jeep Grand Cherokee. “Once we started looking and we saw the EVs that had incentives to purchase, it seemed like a good opportunity,” Schiller tells News10NBC.
The couple has been able to make most trips to and from work and around town solely on battery. They do most of the charging at home with a Level 2 charger, so they looked to see if RG&E had any incentives or programs specifically for EV owners.
“We found a link on RG&E’s website to what they call a ‘time of use’ plan or ‘TOU,’ Schiller explains, “that supposedly works similar to a day/night meter, I believe, where after 9 p.m. and weekends, it’s a much cheaper rate, but during the day it’s a little bit higher than the standard.”
Schiller figured charging at night was ideal anyway and if it helps to reduce stress on the grid, that would be beneficial for both his family and the electric company.
Schiller followed the link to sign up and uploaded the required information, including his EV registration. A month passed and he didn’t hear anything, so he tried again. Finally, someone came out to switch his meter.
“When I get my next bill, I’m expecting to see split rates where I’ve got my nighttime rates and my daytime rates and it didn’t happen,” he says.
It turns out, there was a problem with the new meter.
“RG&E came out and the guy told me that the initial meter installed by Grid One (an RG&E contractor) had never been uploaded to RG&E so, they installed it but never uploaded the data for RG&E,” Schiller recalls.
Another RG&E tech came out and installed a different meter and they all thought the problem had been fixed.
“We waited another month and sure enough, the next bill came and it was over $900 and the usage was four to five times what our average usage is,” Schiller says.
Since May, Schiller estimates he has called RG&E customer service at least 100 times trying to get this situation figured out.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of very nice representatives who offer to help and they really give you the feeling they’re going to do what needs to be done and get to the bottom of it and call you back and they always leave me with a good feeling,” he said. “They just never follow through.”
Schiller worries about other customers who are making the transition to electric vehicles and want to ensure they’re going to be billed properly whether they take part in a TOU program or not.
“I really wish we had never done it. I thought we were doing the right thing and we jumped on the green bandwagon a little bit. If it saves us money and it also saves RG&E and the electricity, then it made sense to us but I wish we had never done it,” he says.
News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke reached out to RG&E on Schiller’s behalf and within a day, they reached out to him, resolved the billing error and fixed the meter so it is reading accurately and reporting information correctly on the website interface.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for RG&E tells News10NBC:
“RG&E has several new energy efficiency and technology initiatives offered for its customers currently, and is glad to hear this customer not only received his smart meter, but is also adopting electric vehicle technology and taking advantage of a time-of-use plan to charge his EV during off-peak hours for incentives on his monthly bill. With this new program, the Company is working hard to resolve any issues as soon as they arise and have quickly resolved this issue with the customer, as we do all customers. RG&E is committed to serving its customers, and encourages any customer with a question on their bill to call or come to one of our community events to discuss their issue in person. The call center is now answering more than 80 percent of calls within 30 seconds.”