Evansville’s city administrator blames a miscommunication between new utility meters and billing software for hundreds of errors on residents’ utility bills.
However, only a fraction of those errors affected billing, City Administrator Ian Rigg said, and he encouraged residents who have received error notices to visit City Hall to discuss payment options.
The city has detected 800 errors on Evansville Water and Light Utility accounts since it converted its standard and radio read utility meters to advanced metering infrastructure three years ago, Rigg said.
Of those errors, 749 did not affect billing, he said. The remaining 51 errors did affect billing, with 17 accounts being overbilled and 34 being underbilled.
Billing errors ranged from 36 cents to $7,000, Rigg said.
The source of the errors has since been identified and resolved, Rigg said. No errors occurred because of faulty meters, he said.
Those who were overbilled will see a credit on their bills, likely during the next billing period, Rigg said. Those who were underbilled got notices and can come to City Hall to discuss payment options.
“Change is never easy,” he said. “Unfortunately for some customers, it has been very frustrating, and we just hope they can show some patience and understand nothing about this was intentional.”
Errors were first detected about six months after installation of the new meters started, Rigg said.
City staff checked the accuracy of the meters and found they worked fine. Staff then examined how bills were generated and found errors in the software.
The city eventually hired a software company, which spent a week resolving the problems, he said. The city also hired Baker Tilly to audit the bills, which city staff then double-checked during an internal audit.
The process cost the city about $10,000 in outside labor and hundreds of hours of staff time, Rigg said.
“We did not treat this cavalier,” he said. “It was a very big deal to get this correct, on top of doing normal work.”
In the future, the city will offer an online portal for residents to monitor their utility usage, but that won’t be available until all electric and water meters have been updated.