Bernstein Discovers Billing Error, Saves University About $380,000 Annually

May 24, 2022


Jason Bernstein, energy manager in Engineering Services, noticed a higher-than-usual number of accounts on the University’s monthly water bills from Charlotte Water and decided to investigate the cause. Bernstein conferred with Greg Cole, water resource engineer, and sought help from Nick Occhipinti, GIS developer, to assess how much surface area should be billed. Storm water charges are based on the campus’s hard surface area, which is about 9.8 million square feet. The bill showed nearly 17.4 million square feet were being billed for a total of nearly $900,000 annually. 

After reviewing the significant miscalculation with Charlotte Water, it was discovered that there was a duplication in some of the calculations of the campus’s hard surface area, which caused the overcharge. Charlotte Water has confirmed that, due to the error, they were inadvertently over-charging the University. Thanks to Bernstein, the excess charges have since been removed from the monthly bills — resulting in a $380,000-per-year reduction in annual water charges. Charlotte Water will also be giving a one-time refund going back three years — amounting to approximately $1.14 million.