Photo Credit: David Perez

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, D-Pacoima, has called for a state audit into the troubled rollout of the Los Angeles Department of  Water and Power's $162 million customer information and billing system.

The DWP drew a barrage of complaints from customers after its overhaul  of a nearly 40-year-old billing system in September.

Tens of thousands of ratepayers were issued inaccurate bills that, in  some cases, showed  charges several times greater than what was owed. And some ratepayers  complained about being put on hold for as long as an hour when they called to  complain.

DWP officials said they have yet to receive about $200 million in payments.

``The DWP's new computerized billing system has been a boondoggle from  the start,'' Bocanegra said. ``The project went significantly over budget and  was completed way past the scheduled start date, but that seems like the tip of  the iceberg.''

Bocanegra, who represents the San Fernando Valley area, said the Joint  Legislative Audit Committee is scheduled to consider his audit request at a  March 4 meeting.

Bocanegra aide Ben Golombek said that, with City Controller Ron  Galperin's ongoing audit into a pair of DWP employee training trusts, ``there's  been a lot of discussion recently about transparency at the DWP, and we think  this will complement those efforts.''

Bocanegra's proposed audit requests a closer look at:

-- how the DWP retained contractors to create and implement the new system;

-- how much revenue the utility lost since the system went live in  September;

-- the number of ratepayers who received late or inaccurate bills and  how many received shutoff notices;

-- when the utility learned the the project would ``cost around $160  million, and not $59 million as DWP initially stated;'' and

-- how much of the overall cost owed to efforts to correct glitches in  the system.