Santa Monica, CA — Consumer Watchdog today said that court filings by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power showing misbilled ratepayers will have to wait until mid-2017 to get $44 million in refunds are unacceptable and Mayor Garcetti should act immediately to pay ratepayers back.
Attorneys for the DWP have again delayed a court date to get preliminary settlement of the DWP misbilling dispute until November, despite pledges in court last year to have refund checks delivered by February 2016, which means refund checks would now go to ratepayers no earlier than the summer of 2017.
Consumer Watchdog said the prolonged incompetence in resolving the ratepayer billing scandal shows that DWP managers cannot be trusted to reform themselves through Measure RRR, which LA voters will decide on November 8th, and that Garcetti has turned his back on LA ratepayers.
“You betrayed us when you promised in August 2015 that ratepayers would soon see $44 million in refunds for overbilling by this deeply dysfunctional utility,” Consumer Watchdog wrote Garcetti, who has refused to meet with ratepayers to discuss the settlement.
“Instead, Los Angeles DWP ratepayers who have been overbilled, failed to receive bills for years, and been denied refunds and an honest review of their accounts, are still waiting. Ratepayers report they are continuing to get enormous back-bills they didn’t know were coming, and unreasonable threats of disconnection of electricity and water or even outright termination in situations where the error was entirely DWP’s because it forgot to bill for service.”
Read the letter to Garcetti at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/garcetti_letter_9-12-16.pdf
Read the timeline of events at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/dwp_timeline_of_events.pdf
Calling the situation “a disgrace,” Consumer Watchdog said that it was increasingly clear that “the system is still broken and DWP does not know how, or want, to fix it.”
“Mayor Garcetti, it is time for you to personally take charge of this out-of-control municipal utility, for which you ultimately have responsibility,” Consumer Watchdog’s letter said. “The city and its citizens have suffered enough due to the ineptitude of DWP and your indifference. We ask that the LADWP immediately issue refund checks and stop disconnections over billing issues until they are resolved.”
The nonprofit nonpartisan consumer group called on voters to reject Measure RRR, which DWP managers are campaigning for to give themselves more power and less public oversight. The City Council and Mayor put the measure on the ballot at DWP’s request to remove public oversight of rate hikes, contracts and other key decisions.
“Measure RRR is a DWP power grab that allows for more misconduct and misbilling at DWP without any public oversight at this mismanaged utility,” said Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court. “The DWP billing scandal and DWP’s failure to pay ratepayers back is Exhibit A for why voters should reject Measure RRR. Angelenos cannot trust DWP.”
– 30 –