The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is offering to forgive fines for late payments to encourage more customers to pay their bills in full next month.
Late payment fines charged since Jan. 1 would be credited to customers who pay their bills in full during June, DWP officials said.
"If you're behind on your bill, we encourage you to pay it in full in June and get your late charges credited on your next bill," DWP General Manager Marcie Edwards said.
The one-time offer comes as the utility tries to recover $150 million from customers behind on their payments. About 200,000 bills are overdue by more than 90 days, according to DWP officials.
Payments can be made by calling 1-800-DIAL-DWP, online at ladwp.com and by visiting one of the DWP's 15 regional service centers.
Edwards urged customers unable to pay in full next month to set up a payment plan. Otherwise they could have their water and power shut off, officials said.
The incentive to get people to pay up is part of the DWP's effort to repair relations with customers over billing problems associated with the agency getting a new billing system. Late or inaccurate bills -- often based on estimates rather than meter readings -- were issued after the switch-over to a new system in September.
The department has since hired 21 meter readers and cut the number of estimated bills from 26 percent in Dec. 2013 to 7 percent this month.
"The billing system conversion created regrettable problems for too many of our customers, but we are trying to make it right by fixing the problems and offering sensible solutions like the late payment charge credit," Edwards said.
The DWP hired 49 people to answer telephones to reduce wait times faced by people calling with questions about their bills. Saturday hours were added at some service centers.
--City News Service