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