Whether you are opening your first business, or expanding your existing operations, moving to a new site requires good planning. If you need to set up utilities at your new space, these tips will help you avoid unexpected costs.
- Before you sign a lease, ask the leasing agent what kind of business used this space previously
If your energy needs are lower than the previous tenant’s, the site’s electricity service may be oversized for your business and result in higher costs. If your company grows, it is important to make sure the new location’s energy service can support this growth.
- Ask the leasing agent for the electrical panel size (i.e., 100-amp service, 200-amp service or higher)
It is important to make sure the new location’s energy service can support your business needs. Make sure it is the right size for your business and can supply enough power required by your appliances and equipment.
- Find out the current rate class of your new site
Your utility rate will depend on your business site rate class assigned by your utility distributor. For example, commercial operations like professional offices, retail establishments, institutional facilities, and restaurants may use small general service or small commercial rates. Auto mechanic shops, dry cleaners, and cabinet makers may use medium or large commercial rates. Each rate class may be further subdivided into different categories based on the amount of power the customers use. To find out your new site's rate class, you can ask your leasing agent or call the distribution company.
- Know what type of utility meter you have at your new site
The type of meter at a property determines the rates charged by your retailer. If you have a demand meter, your utility bill will be higher because of demand charges.
- Be aware of your new location’s utility distribution area
Suppose you move your business to a different city or town or relocate from an urban location to a rural area. In that case, you may keep your current rate plan with your utility retailer or find a similar retail rate. You might see your utility delivery costs increase or decrease because another distribution company serves your new site.
- Know your utility responsibilities
Confirm with your landlord or leasing agent if your lease includes any utility services. Keep in mind some landlords require proof that you have set up your utilities before they let you move in.
- Contact your utility retailer in advance to set up services or to schedule transfers
If you are moving your business to the new site, you may be able to transfer accounts from one billing address to another. Your new site may have utility services already, so getting an account set up could only take a phone call to the utility company. If you get your utilities through a competitive retailer, please contact them about a move notice. Some retailers require up to a 45-day notice.
- If you need to open a new account, consider your choices
You have options when buying electricity and natural gas in Alberta. You can choose either a regulated or a competitive retailer. Each company will need different types of information to set up the service.
The regulated rate option (RRO) is a market-rate service on a month-to-month basis. The RRO retailer in your area can set up an account for you right away or even backdate if required.
Competitive retailers, where you can choose your rate type (e.g., fixed or variable) and contract length (e.g., 1-5 years), can take 10-90 days to set up services in your name.
Most competitive companies will also need a credit check before setting up service. If the competitive company cannot set up service before you move into your new business place, set up regulated services until your contract becomes active. You can cancel your regulated service without penalty as soon as your contract is in effect.
- Plan for additional fees
The retailer may request a deposit or connection fee to set up your utilities. When setting up services, ask if you need to pay these fees before service is delivered or if they will be charged on your first statement. Be sure to ask your retailer if it is possible to avoid these fees. Some companies will waive deposits for customers on the Authorized Payment Withdrawal plan.
- Check if your leases overlap
If you are moving and responsible for two properties at the same time – even for a short period – tell your retailer that there will be an overlap in billing. When you receive your statement for the two properties, it will likely be larger than your usual monthly bill.
- Watch for your bills
Make sure you are receiving monthly charges for all utilities you are responsible for. If you are not getting bills, contact your retailer as soon as possible. Even if you do not receive your bill, you are still responsible for any late payment penalties.