LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Some holiday relief is coming for Department of Water and Power (DWP) customers threatened with having their utilities shut off over the agency’s faulty billing system.

The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday ordered a halt on utility shutoff notices until the agency fixes inaccurate and late billing problems in its $162 million customer information system, which went online in September.

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The council voted 12-0 to place a moratorium on disconnection notices.

City Councilmember Mitchell Englander submitted the motion on Nov. 22, requesting the DWP suspend the issuance of the notices pending correcting problems with a newly implemented, nearly $100 million Customer Information System (CIS).

Since the system’s launch, between 3 and 5 percent of DWP’s 1.4 million customers have experienced delayed bills and late notices, as well as incorrectly estimated bills, which the agency said “has led to periods of excessively long and unacceptable hold times when customers have called to report a problem or ask routine questions about their account.”

In addition, some commercial and residential solar customers and large multi-facility customers have experienced problems with their bills, according to the DWP.

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The problem stems from a variety of software glitches and estimations protocols that misinterpret service data, according to Englander. Under his proposal, the DWP will audit each account before a notice is sent out.

“The fear of disconnection from vital utilities, particularly during the holiday season, is unfair to those who are essentially unable to resolve these problems due to inadequacies within the DWP’s new billing and customer service system,” Englander said in a statement. “While DWP is attempting to resolve these problems, it seems only appropriate that a moratorium be placed on disconnections.”

The City Council is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. at City Hall.


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