DWP Addresses Aging Poles, Overcharges

An NBC4 I-Team investigation in February found that flawed computer system was to blame for overcharging an estimated 65,000 LADWP customers.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Weeks after the latest I-Team investigation into excessive LADWP bills, the department has resolved hundreds of bills. Lolita Lopez reports from downtown LA for the NBC4 News at 6 on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. (Published Wednesday, May 7, 2014)

    The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power admitted at a committee meeting Wednesday that it fell behind on its pledge to replace aging utility poles – an effort committed to seven years ago.

    DWP’s Randy Howard told NBC4 that this year, about 1,200 utility poles had been replaced, and added that it “was a little less” than the utility company expected.

    About 87,000 poles have exceeded their lifespan of 60 years. At its current rate of replacement, it would take more than 50 years to replace all utility poles older than 60 years old.

    DWP said that replacement requirements are not only about the age of the utility pole.

    "We needed to look at other factors and reasons why poles would be needed to be replaced. You know, was there rot, was it a location," Howard said.

    Howard said DWP’s resources instead "went onto some other programs that actually had greater impacts."

    According to the budget, however, DWP underspent last year.

    "We know that there’s a lot of issues to it, but we want (DWP) to make sure that the system is reliable and that they do it as it cheaply as possible," Councilman Felipe Fuentes said.

    DWP also addressed concerns that the utility company was overcharging customers during Wednesday’s committee meeting, an issue that NBC4’s I-Team has investigated for the last three months.

    An NBC4 I-Team investigation in February found that flawed computer system was to blame for overcharging an estimated 65,000 LADWP customers.

    "Today we heard that about 7 percent of those (bills) are incorrect, and what's normal is about 5 percent, so we’re getting very close to being normal again," Fuentes said.

    About 26 percent of bills were incorrect or weren’t even reaching customers two months ago, according to an NBC4 report.

    DWP also said they are trying to do more training and hiring, as 40 percent of their current staff is eligible for retirement.