News Feature | August 1, 2018

Spiking Bills Prompt New York American Water Investigation

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,
@sarmje

watermeter reg new

New York state’s utility regulator is investigating New York American Water after around 100 customers alleged their bills had spiked after new water meters were installed. 

"We are aware of the complaints and the issues that have been raised and we are conducting an investigation," Public Service Commission James Denn said, per Newsday

Residents had also complained to local lawmakers about the issue, the report stated. Some customers say their bills have tripled, the report said. 

New York American Water responded with a statement, per Newsday: The water provider says it is conducting a "detailed review using advanced meter analytics and meter testing to confirm [the accuracy of customer meters].” 

"This review will include an analysis of every customer that submitted an inquiry as well as a broader approach which will identify patterns," company president Carmen Tierno said, per the report. “New York American Water is fully committed to our customers and the accuracy of its billing.” 

Barbara Levitz is among the residents who say her bill spiked. 

Her “new meter led her bill to shoot up more than three times her normal summer bill: $281 compared to a typical bill of $81. She noted several neighbors on her block saw similar spikes,” Newsday reported. 

State Senator Todd Kaminsky and Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen had written a letter to the state public service commission to raise the issue. 

"When residents have reported these increases to American Water, the company told them that they must have a leak or other faulty mechanisms," the letter stated, per Patch. "In almost every case, upon inspection, no leak or faulty mechanism was discovered. When pressed for an explanation, American Water told our offices that these customers must be increasing their water usage. However, in nearly every case, constituents contend that they use automated sprinklers and their water usage has remained flat." 

It is not unheard of for utilities to receive billing complaints after water meter upgrades. In one extreme instance in Oklahoma, customers received bills as high as $60,000 after new smart meter was installed, Oklahoma News 4 reported

Image credit: "Water Meter" Jeff Kramer © 2005, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/