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Xcel Energy looking to attract and retain meter readers

Posted by: tdt -

Xcel Energy looking to attract and retain meter readers

AMARILLO, Texas – Xcel Energy is working to fill open meter reading positions and bringing in extra help to reduce the number of estimated meter reads. With an increase in estimated meter reads, the company’s estimates for some customers have been lower than their actual usage, which can lead to an unexpectedly high bill the next time their actual usage is read.

“Many of our customers have received bills that were beyond what they were expecting, and the previous estimations that were too low have been the primary reason,” said David Hudson, president, Xcel Energy – New Mexico, Texas. “We want our customers to know we recognize the problems these estimations have caused, and we are taking steps to boost our meter reading workforce so bills reflect customers’ actual usage. We also want to help customers if they are having difficulty paying their bills.”

Like many businesses, Xcel Energy has had difficulty filling certain jobs during the pandemic. As the economy rebounded earlier this year, retaining employees has been more challenging as workforce opportunities expanded across the region, attracting meter readers to jobs outside the company. The shortage of meter readers led to a greater number of estimations, with some customer meters being estimated more than one month. When accurate reads were ultimately taken, many were underbilled for previous usage that was higher than what was estimated, leading to a significant increase in their current bill. 

Xcel Energy is encouraging affected customers to contact the company to work out  payment plans that can stretch the extra billing costs over several months.  Customers may use the company’s Interactive Voice Response, or IVR,  system to set up payments,  or talk to an agent. The  number to call for a live agent or to interact with IVR is 1-800-899-4999.

The company has  approved a plan to boost  the pay of meter readers to help with recruitment efforts and retaining current employees. In the meantime, meter readers and other personnel  with meter reading experience are traveling from other towns to help  ensure the routes are  read. Additionally, the company is working with regulators to improve  the methodology for estimating usage when the routes can’t be fully covered due to illness or  bad weather. 

“There will always be times when we can’t get to every meter, and  it’s usually because of bad weather or hazards,” Hudson said. “But it’s critical that we improve the accuracy of those estimations and work harder to ensure a customer’s meter is not being estimated two or more months in a row. We regret and apologize for the inconvenience this has caused our customers.”

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