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New DWP Honcho Apologizes for Billing Glitches

The utility's response to its billing system hiccups has been "unacceptable," says Marcie Edwards on her first day as general manager.

Marcie Edwards is the new general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Photo courtesy of DWP.
Marcie Edwards is the new general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Photo courtesy of DWP.

The new head of the Department of Water and Power, in her first day on the job, apologized today to customers for "significant" glitches following a major overhaul of the utility's customer billing system.

"We sincerely apologize to you and to our customers who have been directly affected by these problems," DWP General Manager Marcie Edwards wrote in a letter to customers.

Edwards also unveiled a web page to keep DWP customers updated on the utility's efforts to fix the problems, which include excessive customer call wait times and inaccurate bills.

The web page also includes a "mayor's dashboard" that tracks the utility's progress in fixing its billing issues and gives DWP a score of "unacceptable" for its efforts in customer service and ability to manage its revenue.

The dashboard shows customers getting put on hold an average of 25-29 minutes during the first three weeks of February, a far cry from DWP's three- minute goal.

The utility has shaved the number of bills it has had to estimate due to a shortage of meter readers from 20.46 percent to 16.32 percent over the same period, toward a goal of 3 percent.

The dashboard's figures also show that $176 million in bills are past due by more than 90 days, and $57 million is late by 61 to 90 days, as of the third week of February.

The utility's response to its billing system hiccups has been "unacceptable," Edwards said.

"We did not adequately prepare for the extent of the problems we experienced and we made matters worse by not making certain that when those affected had problems, we were able to take their calls and emails and respond in a timely manner," she wrote.

Edwards left her position as city manager of Anaheim to return to the DWP, where she worked her way up from a clerk job she landed at age 19 to an executive post in 24 years with the utility.

She was appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti in January to replace previous General Manager Ron Nichols.

--City News Service

Linda Coburn March 03, 2014 at 08:27 PM
I just received my bill for the last FOUR months of service so the number of bills they show as past due more than 90 days doesn't surprise me in the least. Their billing of solar generating customers has been a nightmare for years now. I hope they are working to rectify that with this new system. Not holding my breath, though.
Pat Lukes March 04, 2014 at 11:17 AM
What about all of the overpayments by Customers to them? In my months that I travel, my bills are equal to or greater than the months that I do not travel. That's how I knew about the overbilling. I'm curious as to how we are going to be compensated when they figure out what's going on.
AKM March 04, 2014 at 12:10 PM
yeah been dealing with this foul up for months now...didnt get a bill for 2 months and then get a whopping bill of over 600 due in a weeks time and then more on top of that..i have several emails back n forth with them and told them to even take off the late charge...i paid it, but argued that i didnt owe that much including more charges since then - 2 bed apartment shouldnt owe that much!
Sherry Barnett March 04, 2014 at 12:20 PM
The city needs to get involved and give DWP customers not only reasonable payment plans to pay off exorbitant bills that they weren't billed for on time, but compensation for the stress they've put their customers under - as well as the inaccuracies of the bill that we're all at the mercy of. And the DWP is sending out bills that include "late fees"?!?! Shame on you DWP!
Bob Peppermuller March 04, 2014 at 02:09 PM
Believe me LADWP has the blow torch on their backside. I met Marcie last Saturday at LADWP headquarters before she even started. First thing out of the small audience was examples of screwed up bills. Fred Pickle the rate payer advocate was there also. He had been beat on at a prior meeting. LADWP faced a monumental task of doing a complete redo of their very old system (COBOL) which could no longer handle today's information super highway. What kind of beta testing they did I don't know. LADWP is scrambling to fix things. I advised that when things settle down not to let go information technology people that support their new software. I had gone through a similar scenario in private industry where, even after things are moving along smoothly, problems do crop up because of the complexity of today's software. Example: Obama Care.

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