Central Maine Power Announces Initiatives to Improve Customer Experience
AUGUSTA, ME, — August 7, 2019 — Central Maine Power Co. (CMP), a subsidiary of AVANGRID Inc. (NYSE: AGR), today announced a set of organizational changes and program proposals aimed at improving the CMP customer experience. The company is adding several new, unique Maine-based positions to the Customer Service organization charged with addressing customer clarity over bills and energy use, as well as placing a tight focus on regular administration of the company’s Smartcare information system. CMP will also implement a pilot program with Efficiency Maine Trust to provide home usage assessments for some customers who have persistent questions about their electricity use. Finally, in a filing submitted today to the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC), CMP has proposed funding a “Customer Benefit Fund,” within the framework of the current rate case, which would be administered by the PUC to address outstanding customer issues as it sees appropriate.
“I understand that CMP needs to continue to work hard to regain the trust and confidence of our customers,” said Doug Herling, CMP President and CEO. “We believe these enhancements to strengthen our Customer Service organization, along with specific customer-focused program offerings and proposals will improve the experience of all CMP customers.”
These are the actions announced and proposed:
Vice President Customer Service for Maine:
CMP has named Linda Ball to the newly-created position of Vice President, Customer Service for Maine. Ball has more than 20 years of customer service experience, including contact and call center operations, regulatory affairs and billing. Ball currently serves as a director within the Process and Technologies business area for Avangrid Networks – CMP’s corporate parent – from the Augusta office. She spent more than six years managing CMP’s customer contact center during which CMP earned two JD Power awards for service. In her new role, effective September 1, Ball will ensure all customer information tools and resources are effectively aligned and focused to meet daily customer needs.
Energy Assessment Pilot Program
CMP is pleased to partner with Efficiency Maine Trust (EMT) to offer, at CMP’s expense, a pilot program that will provide assistance to customers with unresolved high usage disputes. EMT is the independent administrator of programs in Maine to help homes and businesses lower their energy costs and carbon emissions by promoting more efficient and cleaner lighting, equipment and structures. As an additional step in the existing high use complaint escalation process, a limited number of residential customers will be offered a referral to EMT. Customers who choose the referral will receive an analysis of their electric consumption, a review of utility usage data and an “in home” observation by an independent, qualified expert who will review how the observed consumption relates to amounts billed by CMP. EMT will offer recommendations about potential energy savings measures and guidance on opportunities to participate in EMT’s programs. If the pilot program is deemed successful in resolving customer usage issues by EMT and CMP, it will be expanded and incorporated into the company’s standard process for escalated high usage inquiries.
Customer Benefit Fund (proposed)
In lieu of a proposal by PUC staff to implement a management efficiency downward ROE adjustment, which by its nature would result in a reduction in distribution rates spread across all customer classes, CMP recommends that the Commission establish a “Customer Benefit Fund” to be entirely funded by CMP. The company proposes contributing $6 million to the fund beginning on the effective date of the Order in the current rate case proceeding, by making 12 monthly contributions of $500,000 to compensate customers impacted by the company’s customer service performance. CMP also proposes that disposition of the fund should be left to the Commission’s discretion with input from interested parties. Possible uses for the Customer Benefit Fund could include compensation for customers that were impacted by delayed bills or by identified, and since corrected, SmartCare system errors. Moving forward with this proposal is contingent on PUC approval in the rate case.
SmartCare Business Support Team and Billing
A team of nine Maine-based professionals will provide dedicated analytics and technical support for all CMP customer systems and processes. In addition, a new Maine-based management position will be dedicated to billing and collections procedures under Linda Ball’s leadership.
About CMP: Central Maine Power Company (CMP), a subsidiary of AVANGRID, Inc., is Maine’s largest electricity transmission and distribution utility. Established in 1899, CMP serves approximately 624,000 customers across 346 communities in central and southern Maine. CMP operates approximately 23,500 miles of distribution lines and 2,900 miles of transmission lines; over the last decade the company has invested approximately $2.6 billion in Maine system infrastructure. In 2019, CMP was named Large Business of the Year by the Kennebec Valley United Way.
About AVANGRID: AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR) is a leading, sustainable energy company with approximately $32 billion in assets and operations in 24 U.S. states. AVANGRID has two primary lines of business: Avangrid Networks and Avangrid Renewables. Avangrid Networks owns eight electric and natural gas utilities, serving 3.2 million customers in New York and New England. Avangrid Renewables owns and operates 7.1 gigawatts of electricity capacity, primarily through wind power, with a presence in 22 states across the United States. AVANGRID employs approximately 6,500 people. AVANGRID supports the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, received a Climate Development Project climate score of “A-,” the top score received in the utilities sector, and has been recognized for two consecutive years by Ethical Boardroom as the North American utility with the “best corporate governance practices.” For more information, visit www.avangrid.com.
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