The Guam Waterworks Authority has defended the need for back-billing in the midst of efforts to abolish it through legislation introduced by Sen. Clynt Ridgell.
In an interview with Phill Leon Guerrero on NewsTalk K57, GWA general manager Miguel Bordallo said back-billing is a necessary tool that GWA needs to have in order to bill all customers fairly for their water usage when defective meters are discovered.
If back-billing is eliminated, Bordallo said those with defective meters will essentially be getting free water that will be borne and subsidized by all ratepayers in the form of increased rates.
Bordallo acknowledged that there have been problems with informing customers about being back-billed.
“I understand the frustration that customers have had in the past with back-billing, but we are already addressing this. We made changes to our business process to improve that,” Bordallo said.
Bordallo said GWA now has just a 4-month window to replace defective meters and inform customers who are to be back-billed.
He said this four-month period is what about 80 percent of utilities across the nation have adopted, with other utilities having an even longer time frame.
Bordallo also said GWA is willing to amend the back-billing law and change the stature of limitation to prevent longer period for back-billing.
Bordallo also stressed that GWA doesn’t estimate customers’ bills.
“The estimates were done before automated metering. But now, with the new technology, we don’t have to physically inform the meters,” Bordallo said.
He added that more information is now being provided by GWA to backbilled customers, not just one letter.
A first letter is sent to inform customers that their meters will be tested. Then other letters are sent informing customers whether their meters are defective or not and when the meter replacement and back-billing will occur.
“I just hope that we can find a pragmatic middle ground,” Bordallo said.