Higher LADWP bills may stem from heat wave, new rate increases, tiered pricing

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers have been getting quite a shock when receiving their utilities bills for the last couple of months. Many of the bills have been well over $1,000 for a single family home.

The summer heat may have the Southland but LADWP bills are causing a different kind of heat stroke.

Countless LADWP customers were caught off guard by the outsized bills - with some of them in the thousands of dollars.

"This summer was especially problematic. It was very hot for a very long time. In the evenings it wouldn't cool off, and so customers tended to leave their air conditioning a lot longer," said Sharon Grove, who heads LADWP's customer service division.

Grove brought a conservation expert to a Northridge home, where the owners were hit with more than a thousand dollars in charges over two months.

"We don't keep lights on when we're not in a room, our lights are off," said Deborah, a resident. "The temperature is up to 78. I mean, we're really mindful of that."

Hot weather is only partly to blame. Back in 2015, LADWP did pass a series of rate increases which now get tacked on every summer.

"For five years, every July 1, the rates inch up a little bit," Grove said.

And then there's a section of the bill called "tiered pricing." If you go over the initial electric and water allotment from LADWP, the prices jump even higher.

So not only are you paying more for the extra electricity, but you're also paying a higher rate for it. And in a heat wave, that could add up to a lot of money.

"You take notice when you're doing your bills every month and you're like, woah!" Deborah said.

The DWP said the increase at Deborah's house was due to a 20 percent boost in power usage.

The energy audit found a handful of ways to whittle it down, including a more efficient pool pump.

However, Groves is worried that summer heat waves are the new normal -- the new expensive normal.

"Our summers are hotter and they're longer. So even if you're setting your air conditioner a little warmer, it's running for a longer amount of time to keep your home cool," Groves said.
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