LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A deal has yet to be reached on settling the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s massive billing issue after the utility company admitted to overcharging thousands after rolling out a new computer billing system.

But as CBS2’s Randy Paige reports, some customers like Christianny Lima are facing frighteningly high bills.

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She has been charged $29,536.36.

DWP: “We record all conversations.”

Lima: “OK, I’m going to record the conversation, too.”

Consumer Watchdog of Santa Monica did the recording as Lima continues her two-year battle trying to convince the DWP she doesn’t owe anywhere near the amount they’re charging her.

DWP: “It looks like they found that the bills are correct, Ma’am.”

Lima owns a small martial arts studio in Torrance.

She says its open just six hours a day and she doesn’t use air conditioning. The fluorescent lights and a couple of drink machines are about the only electric fixtures she uses.

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Her monthly bill was normally about $250, but a couple of years ago, it suddenly shot up to 10 times that much.

DWP: “Let me ask you to hold just a moment.”

The phone call lasted more than 30 minutes.

Lima was told the investigation into her bill is complete and she owed the entire bill of $29,536.15 or her power would be shut off.
DWP: “The only way I can stop that shut off of service is to make an arrangement.”

DWP: “20 percent one week from today, then we can do six months on the balance.”

CBS2 asked the DWP to examine Lima’s bill and to explain why it jumped exactly 10 times the amount from one month to the next.

“There is a human error entered into the system where they added a zero so essentially added a factor of 10 to her billing factor,” said Dave Wright of the DWP.

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Lima is now one ratepayer with a successful resolution, while many others are still waiting.