Austin Energy blames IBM for billing problems

AUSTIN, TX. (AP) - Austin's city-owned electric utility says a malfunction in its bill collection system has, since October, been producing bills charging some businesses owing about $3,000 amounts of up to $300,000, instead.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that more than 100,000 Austin Energy customers have experienced the problem, about one in four customers. The city is paying IBM $55 million to develop and operate the bill collection system, and utility executives blame IBM for issues that keep emerging as others are resolved.

In a letter to Austin Energy, IBM Vice President Frank Kern assured officials that the company can handle the problem and pledged to meet its contractual obligations.

In the meantime, Austin Energy is withholding $3.8 million in payments to IBM until the situation is fully resolved.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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