Utility Rebates to Drop for Most Air Force Housing

Senior Airman Dustin Monti and his spouse, Beth, are the first family to move into the newest privatized housing development at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., May 27, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Hailey R. Staker/Released)
Senior Airman Dustin Monti and his spouse, Beth, are the first family to move into the newest privatized housing development at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., May 27, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Hailey R. Staker/Released)

A change to how average utility use in Air Force privatized housing is calculated will mean that fewer residents will receive a rebate each month, while more could be paying out of pocket for overages.

Currently, as many as 80 percent of Air Force housing residents in about 43,000 units receive a utility rebate each month, Air Force officials said.

Those rebates are given monthly when a resident stays under the average utility use calculated by the Air Force. That calculation is based on a rolling five-year use average bumped up 10 percent.

Residents who go over that average are sent monthly bills; those who stay under it receive rebates.

The new calculation will instead identify average utility use by looking at actual meter readings at similar housing types and sizes at each base. Officials said they estimate that under the new plan about half of residents will receive a rebate -- down as much as 30 percent from the number who receive rebates today.

"The new policy empowers residents in privatized housing to manage their energy consumption," Jennifer Miller, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, said in a statement. "The intent has always been to promote energy conservation by rewarding residents with less-than-average energy consumption through rebates. The new policy allows the Air Force to better meet that intent."

Air Force officials estimate that most residents will fall within $8 of the new average -- meaning while some will receive a rebate of about $8, others will be charged $8 a month.

The new calculation plan will start June 2 for new residents in housing on 51 bases that have installed utility meters and are currently using the old system. Of those, 22 will go straight into live billing where residents will be charged, while 29 will go into a mock billing cycle.

Under that system, residents will be given a fake bill for several months to help them learn what their charges will be, before also being transitioned into live billing. Twelve additional bases are still in the process of installing utility meters and will implement billing when those meters are ready.

Current residents at the 22 locations with immediate live billing will be grandfathered into the old program for one year before also switching to the new program, Air Force officials said.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.

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