(Fayetteville Observer (NC) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 23--This month's roll out of new billing systems for Fayetteville's Public Works Commission has had some minor glitches, officials say.
Customers should have noticed changes to their July billing statements, after the PWC began using new software and computer servers for billing operations and customer service.
All 115,000 customers of the city-owned utility received new account numbers as part of the changes, and July bills were missing the popular blue bar graphs showing past usage of electricity and water. Those bar graphs will return soon, officials said.
Aside from the bill formatting changes, some users, after creating new accounts using the new system at csm.faypwc.com, encountered temporary problems with their passwords or the payment options on the website.
All of the problems were solved quickly, usually within a few days, said Carolyn Justice-Hinston, the utility's spokeswoman.
"It's a big transition," she said Wednesday.
She said 5,000 customers have created accounts with the new billing system.
Predictably, a lot more customers than normal are calling with questions, so there have been phone delays this month when reaching PWC's customer service.
For nearly three weeks beginning in late June, the PWC had to suspend cutting off utilities for nonpayment until the transition to the new bill system was completed, said PWC General Manager Steve Blanchard.
The affected customers, however, still were notified they were past due and subject to losing their services.
The billing changes was phase two of a three-year plan to overhaul the utility's computer network and software for finance, human relations and other departments. The $15 million overhaul is expected to be fully phased in by the end of this year, Blanchard said.
The changes will bring about more efficiencies and better customer-service options, including more account information online. The changes are needed before the PWC begins a four-year project of replacing every electric meter with an advanced, or "smart," meter that will allow the utility, among other things, to charge rates based on time of day. The goal, PWC says, is to charge higher electric rates during peak times in the summer, such as in the afternoons and early evenings after people come home from work and use more air conditioning.
The smart meters also will inform PWC of power outages instantly and allow customers to schedule exactly when they want service to begin or end.
Staff writer Andrew Barksdale can be reached at email@example.com or 486-356
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