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Billing Problems For Thousands Of Austin Utility Customers

Updated: Tuesday, July 29 2014, 06:23 PM CDT

Thousands of Austin utility customers are getting bills that are either a little too high or a little too low. The problem is the amount these customers are being charged for wastewater. 


The typical Austin utility customer uses about $43 of wastewater a month. The City of Austin comes up with that number by averaging three months of water use during the late fall and winter. The $43, or whatever a customer's average works out to be, is what gets billed for wastewater the rest of the year. 


But, bad weather this past winter meant some people's averages were calculated using two months of data or four months, but not the normal three. In addition, some meter readings were conducted on days that were not in a customer's normal billing cycle. 


"There were several ice days," said Carlos Cordova with Austin Energy. "The meter readers weren't able to get out and take water reads during that time." 


Back then, it didn't seem like a big deal. But, six months later about 70,000 customers have bills that just aren't quite right. Charges for wastewater are either too high or too low. 


"We're going to provide credits for anyone who was overcharged and anyone who was under billed we're not going to back bill them," said Cordova. 


While the average wastewater bill is $43 a month, don't expect to get anywhere near that much back. 


"More than likely the credits are going to be small. But, regardless whether it's cents or dollars that are owed, every penny counts," said Cordova. 


There is a fix to keep this from happening during the next ice storm. 


"The utilities need to communicate with each other when the meter reading dates will be changed because just changing them, even one day, effects the cycles," said Cordova. 


Customers who paid too much will see a credit on their September bill. Those who paid too little will not be back billed. Specifics on how much customers over paid should be available next month.

By Bettie Cross

Billing Problems For Thousands Of Austin Utility Customers


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