If your home has a smart meter, the most common reason we estimate your bill is due to a brief lapse in communication when attempting to obtain the meter reading that is required to create your bill. This is similar to experiencing a dropped call on your cell phone.
Once communication resumes, the new meter readings show all the energy used up to that point. In the event that we can't remotely obtain a meter reading for a longer period of time, we'll send a technician to check the meter, and exchange it if we can't restore communication. Even when a meter is unable to communicate, its internal components typically continue to measure cumulative electric use. Therefore, before a meter is removed, our technician manually obtains the reading so we can send you an accurate bill.
If your home does not have a smart meter, we may estimate your bill if we are unable to read the meter due to weather conditions, equipment issues, or other access reasons outside of our control. Assuming access is available the following month, the new reading will include all the energy used up to that point.
All meters measure cumulative electric use, much like the odometer measures the miles on your car. The cumulative meter readings ensure your future bills reflect any necessary corrections. If our previous estimate was too low or too high, the cumulative meter reading will "catch-up" or "true-up" that difference on the next bill.
Estimates are based upon your historical usage patterns. Estimated meter readings can be higher or lower than actual usage; however, bills self-correct in the billing cycle when the meter is actually read, ensuring you never pay for more energy than you actually used.
In this example: March is an "Estimated" reading BGE made based on this customer's historical usage pattern. The estimated use for any month may be higher or lower than a customer's actual use during that month. It is not until the next actual reading, in this case in April, that the customer's account can be reconciled for the effect of the estimate. The reconciliation is commonly called a "true up." The true up occurs on the April bill and is the result of taking the actual reading reported in April (Meter Reading Present) and subtracting from it the estimated March use (Meter Reading Previous). In this case, the difference on the April bill is 800 and the customer will be billed for that amount of usage.
In most instances, an estimated reading for one month may have little to no impact on the amount of your monthly bill. But consecutive estimates can impact your bill amount because they occur over a number of months. If estimates occur over several consecutive months and your usage patterns change, when an actual reading is obtained, the "true up" process may be more pronounced. If you receive consecutively estimated bills, please call us at 1-800-685-0123 so that we can resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
You can help avoid estimated bills by ensuring that BGE has access to your meter. Helpful tips include:
Providing BGE access to its equipment is a condition of service. Failure to provide access is a violation of BGE's Maryland Public Service Commission approved Retail Electric Service Tariff, which serves as the service agreement between customers and Baltimore Gas and Electric. Failure to comply could result in an interruption of service.
View our Meter Accessibility Policies (PDF)