Water and Light
Your trusted source of water and electricity for over 100 years.
In 2005, Columbia Water & Light's started installing an automatic meter reading system on homes and small businesses. The meters being used are not an advanced or smart metering system. A meter reader drives by your building and collects electric usage data from the meter once a month via a radio signal. As the meter is read from month to month, the difference in the kilowatt hour readings is your consumption and you are billed accordingly. Columbia Water & Light has different electric rates based on the cost to serve each customer classification.
Meters are highly accurate instruments that are similar to an odometer on your car. One way to monitor your consumption is to read your meter and check it daily or weekly. If you read your meter at the same time each day, subtract the present reading from the previous day's reading to determine the number of kilowatt-hours used in one day. By reading your meter at the same time each day, you will get an exact total of the electricity you have used. By noting high consumption activities, such as air conditioning in the summer, you will know where you are spending your energy dollars. Reading your meter often, along with careful observation of the weather and appliances being used, can help you manage energy consumption and evaluate the effectiveness of appliances.
Your meter is read once a month by a Columbia Water & Light employee. Due to weekends, holidays or the length of the month, the total days between each meter reading may vary. It's possible for your monthly usage to increase or decrease from the previous billing period even though your average daily use remains the same.
On occasion, events beyond the utility's control may force your home's electric usage for a month's billing cycle to be estimated. Locked gates, threatening dogs, covered or blocked meters and dangerous weather conditions can make it impossible for meter readers to reach your electric meter. Bills are estimated in mass when weather conditions cause a safety hazard for meter readers. As you build or landscape your home, think about how a Columbia Water & Light Meter Reader is going to access your meter. If you are fencing in your yard, is your meter inside or outside a locked gate? Does the landscaping next to your house allow room for someone to get to your meter to read it?
If there is a billing error, it will be handled in the normal procedure, with a credit adjustment on your next bill. E-mail a Customer Service Representative (UCS@gocolumbiamo.com) or call 573-874-7380. If there is a question about electric or water usage, the meter will be re-read. If you would like to lower your electric usage, request a free energy audit online or call 573-874-7325.
With our free Automatic Bill Payment service, you can have your City of Columbia utility bill paid automatically from any participating Bank, Savings and Loan or Credit Union account. With Automatic Bill Payment, you will still keep control over your utility payments. You'll continue to receive a monthly utility statement. Then, approximately 10 days later, the payment will be deducted from your account. That's plenty of time to review the statement and call our Customer Service Representative if you have any questions. You can also pay your bill over the phone or on the city's web site. Click here for utility payment options.
Columbia does not have an advanced or a smart metering system for residential electric customers. Customer usage is collected by a meter reader via a radio signal once a month through a handheld device. Smart meters record utility usage data in intervals of an hour or less. The data is sent to the utility through some type of communications network for billing purposes. Smart meters also allow for two-way communication with the meter. There are many functions that can be accomplished with smart meters. For instance, outage notification, turning on and off an account, time-of-day electric rates and customers being able to monitor their electric use for energy efficiency purposes.