Long Island gas and upstate electric business miss key metrics
National Grid’s New York businesses met or exceeded the majority of their 2014 service quality metrics, including reliability and restoration targets. However, the downstate and upstate companies narrowly missed goals related to customer service. The metrics are agreed to with the New York Public Service Commission (NYPSC) and include financial penalties if they are not met.
The Long Island gas business missed its customer satisfaction target largely due to the impacts of a system conversion and high bills caused by the extreme cold weather. It also missed its complaint rate targets.
The upstate electricity business missed measures related to residential customer satisfaction (due to the Polar Vortex and resulting spike in wholesale electricity prices reflected in bills) and the accuracy of company cost estimates for certain capital projects that cost more than $100,000.
National Grid-Long Island will pay a negative revenue adjustment of $8.9 million, while the upstate electricity business will pay a negative revenue adjustment of $2.54 million. These amounts are automatically deferred for the benefit of customers. The deferral amounts are 100 percent shareholder dollars.
The New York City gas business met all of its service requirements in 2014 and the upstate business exceeded targets in its other seven metrics.
The company issued the following statement in response to the news about the penalties:
“National Grid just missed the PSC performance mark by less than two percent on Long Island and less than three percent upstate and we’re working diligently to address the areas that require improvement to ensure customer satisfaction. Our goal is to meet or exceed all these targets every year. We are focused and making solid progress on improving our customer satisfaction results in 2015.”
The company has put in place many improvements and processes to deal with customer satisfaction, including:
- The launch of Customer Assistance Expos in upstate NY
- Further commitment to low-income customers in the form of bill credits, one-time arrears forgiveness of $250 for 3,000 customers and a $1 million shareholder donation to Care & Share Energy Fund
- Expanded consumer advocate outreach and education
- Deferring $32 million increase in February 2014 over six months to help mitigate bill impacts in upstate NY
- Creating an analyst team to provide one point of contact for large and managed accounts on Long Island
- Enhanced training of customer contact center agents on Long Island
- Automated Meter Reading will be in effect by the end of 2015 for all 570,000 natural gas customers on Long Island
Currently, service quality mechanisms are in place for all of the state’s major energy utilities. In April 2014, the Commission initiated Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative to develop policies that will transform the way electricity is used and distributed in the state. It is expected that, as a result of REV, the Commission will place even greater emphasis on performance based mechanisms and less on traditional cost-of-service ratemaking.