Areas of White Rock affected by billing error. Map courtesy DPU
Officials with the Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities indicate that they discovered an error on some utility bills generated on Feb. 14. Billing cycles 13 and 14 in the northeastern section of White Rock had an error in the calculation that converts natural gas consumption into therms. This resulted in higher reported use and the customer was overcharged. DPU is fixing the error and will mail corrected bills to those customers next week.
According to Deputy Utilities Manager Robert Westervelt, the heat content factor was incorrect on those two billing cycles and therefore did not accurately calculate customers’ gas consumption to therms. Customers’ natural gas meters are positive displacement meters which measure in 100 cubic feet (CCF). DPU converts the CCF into therms using two factors: Elevation and Heat Content. Unlike the elevation factor which is constant (0.78 for Los Alamos customers and 0.81 for White Rock customers), the heat content factor is variable. “It fluctuates from month to month,” stated Westervelt.
Customers can learn what the heat content is each month and how to convert CCFs into therms on DPU’s website: Rebrand.ly/CCF-Therms
“DPU is committed to billing our customers accurately and when a mistake is discovered, we fix it.” Westervelt explained. “We are also always looking at how to prevent such an error from happening again.”
On July 1, 2018, DPU converted to new utility billing software as part of the County’s enterprise resource planning software implementation project. Westervelt stated that his staff is working diligently through the regular glitches that occur when moving to new software systems. “We were experts in the previous utility billing software that had been in use for more than 25 years. We appreciate customers’ patience as we learn and perfect the new system.”
DPU customers who have questions should call the Customer Care Center at 505.662.8333 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.