New Customer Service Program Will Assist DC Water Ratepayers
December 20, 2018
Council legislation enables Office of the People’s Counsel to Engage on Water Issues
Next year DC Water customers will be able to work with the DC Office of the People’s Counsel if they have questions about their bills, under new legislation approved by the Council yesterday.
The new legislation brings several new services and resources to DC Water customers that previously were reserved only for Washington Gas and Pepco customers. The OPC represents District residents on utility matters involving the gas, electric and telephone industry.
“Having the resources of the People’s Counsel available for our customers is a great opportunity,” said David L. Gadis, President of DC Water. “I believe that our customer focus is outstanding, but we can always get better and this new arrangement brings many benefits to our customers.”
Under the bill, the OPC can assist customers with any billing or customer service question they have. The OPC can also testify at hearings when the DC Water Board of Directors considers testimony on setting rates. Finally, the OPC can become involved in any formal hearings or adjudicatory processes where customers contest their bills. DC Water will also work with OPC and the Department of Energy and Environment to develop a Consumer Bill of Rights.
Gadis cautioned that in the short term the legislation is likely to increase costs at DC Water due to the nature of the appeals process. The OPC office will be paid $900,000 by the District government to hire 9 new staff for the process and DC Water will also likely need to hire additional staff to respond to the increased volume of paperwork.
The bill was introduced last winter by DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and was the subject of a hearing in July at which Mr. Gadis testified in favor of the legislation. Support on the Council this week was unanimous. The Mayor is expected to sign the bill, which will then go through the required Congressional Review before it is effective.