More Lexington utilities offering paperless billing option

kentucky american in soft-launch phase; lexserv gearing up

ssloan@herald-leader.comMarch 10, 2013 

  • How to tear it up, go paperless

    Columbia Gas of Kentucky: The natural gas utility has offered the service since 1999. Learn more at Columbiagasky.com.

    Kentucky American Water: The water utility has launched but not yet promoted its program. Learn more at Amwater.com/kyaw.

    Kentucky Utilities: The electric utility has offered the service since 2002. Learn more at KUenergy.com.

    LEXserv: The new city services billing program offers an online account system that lets you view bills but does not yet have a paperless system in place that notifies you via email. Learn more at Lexingtonky.gov/lexserv.

Kentucky American Water and LEXserv City Services are both making progress offering more convenient billing for customers.

Late last year, Kentucky American began offering paperless billing, in which customers receive their bills via email instead of through the traditional mail.

The company incorporated the program into its "My H2O" online service available on its website that allows residential customers to view past bills and make online payments. That service is utilized by about 20 percent of residential customers, said spokeswoman Susan Lancho.

"Certainly we understand that more and more customers are doing all kinds of things online. That's the way the world is," Lancho said. "While many customers still prefer to do things the old-fashioned way, we want to give our customers the most flexibility and convenience we can.

"This offers a secure, private, convenient and environmentally friendly way to receive bills."

The utility has not yet begun promoting the service, which is still in a soft launch phase "so it can be monitored and evaluated," she said.

Lancho said she expects the utility will begin notifying all customers of the program later this year through inserts with mailed billing statements.

Meanwhile, LEXserv City Services recently began offering an online account system in which residents can review monthly bills.

City officials created LEXserv last year after Kentucky American declined to continue collecting fees it had long gathered on the city's behalf. Those fees include the landfill, sanitary sewer and water-quality management charges. The city hired Cincinnati Water Works to handle the calculations on how much residents owe, process their payments and provide customer service. Lexington-based BlueGrass Mailing was hired to print and mail the monthly bills.

Bill O'Mara, director of the city's Division of Revenue, said BlueGrass Mailing offered the online bill viewer as a feature and launched it in January. He said the city hopes to add a paperless billing component sometime in the second year of LEXserv operations.

"We've been pleased with the transition," O'Mara said. "We've maintained a high degree of accuracy in the calculations and, once implemented, been pretty much on track with our billings.

"For the early phase, we've been pleased in total with the project, even though as any new system would, we've had some challenges and issues we had to address."

The additional online offerings from Kentucky American and LEXserv follow on programs launched in years past by Kentucky Utilities and Columbia Gas of Kentucky.

In 2002, KU launched its service, which is utilized by 4.1 percent of customers. When you factor in KU's affiliated companies, Louisville Gas and Electric and Old Dominion Power, the stat rises to 4.8 percent, said spokesman Cliff Feltham.

Columbia Gas has more than 13,300 of its roughly 140,000 customers, or around 10 percent, enrolled in its paperless billing option. The company has offered the option since 1999 using third-party vendors but developed its own system in 2009.

The company recently announced it will donate $10 to the American Red Cross chapters across the state for each customer who enrolls in paperless billing through the end of March.


How to tear it up, go paperless

Columbia Gas of Kentucky: The natural gas utility has offered the service since 1999. Learn more at Columbiagasky.com.

Kentucky American Water: The water utility has launched but not yet promoted its program. Learn more at Amwater.com/kyaw.

Kentucky Utilities: The electric utility has offered the service since 2002. Learn more at KUenergy.com.

LEXserv: The new city services billing program offers an online account system that lets you view bills but does not yet have a paperless system in place that notifies you via email. Learn more at Lexingtonky.gov/lexserv.

Scott Sloan: (859) 231-1447. Twitter: @HeraldLeaderBiz

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