In the coming months, Palo Alto utility customers can expect to see new paper-saving, convenient ways to pay their utility bills. City staff has nearly completed installation of a new utility billing system that will allow customers to do more on line. Rather than visiting City Hall or paying by mail, customers will be able to go on line to pay their bills with a credit card or bank account number. While on line, they will be able to view their utility usage history for up to 13 months. Those looking to reduce waste may choose a paperless billing option. These features will meet the requests of many residents who wish to “go green” by reducing the paper used to produce utility bills. Other advantages include the ability to expand the system to support special utility rates that reward energy efficiency and take advantage of Smart Grid technology.
While the new on-line services are anticipated to be available in June, City staff expects to activate the new billing system May 4, 2009, at which point beta testing of the on-line services will begin. Customers should expect their May utility bills to look the same as their April bills, with one exception: a new account number. Beyond that, customers should not see changes to their bills or services.
“We are looking forward to providing our customers with enhanced services. While we expect a smooth transition, customers should be aware that as with any transition to a new software system, there may be a few hiccups in the switchover process. Our customer service staff is trained on the new system, though, and will provide assistance to customers if necessary during the transition,” said David Ramberg, Project Manager and Assistant Director of Administrative Services. ”Once the new system is running and customers are used to it, I know they will appreciate the convenience being able to pay on line, get more information from their computers about utility bills and usage, and be able to eliminate paper bills.”
This major Information Technology project began in 2007 and is led by the Administrative Services Department with substantial support from the Public Works and Utilities departments.
Customers interested in finding out more can visit the project web site at www.cityofpaloalto.org/newaccount