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Customer Engagement

Thoughts on Government-Utility Relations

As utilities are generally unable to determine whether nonpayment by a customer is pandemic related, customer payments effectively became voluntary.
Author Bio: 

Tom Sloan is a recently retired twelve-term veteran of the Kansas Legislature and member of several federal agency and professional legislator organizations’ energy committees.

Time for Creativity

Illicit Marketing Practices

We’ll cover state PUC rulings from New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Ohio, dealing with 1) billing overcharges, 2) deceptive promises of savings, 3) faulty enrollment practices, 4) “slamming,” 5) misleading sales scripts used in telemarketing, 6) hidden fixed charges, and 7) concealed pass-through clauses.
Author Bio: 

Phillip Cross is legal editor, Public Utilities Fortnightly, and serves on the editorial staff of Utility Regulatory News, published by Public Utilities Reports, Inc. (our publisher), which reports weekly on ratemaking and regulatory decisions issued by state public utility commissions.

State PUCs take aim at unscrupulous electric and gas suppliers.

Today's NASUCA

NASUCA continues to bring the consumer advocate message to Washington D.C. Most recently it filed a letter in opposition to a U.S. Senate energy bill (S. 2012) amendment, King-Reid #3120. The letter voiced concerns about a move to federally institutionalize full net metering.
Sheri Givens
Author Bio: 

Sheri Givens is a former member of NASUCA’s Executive Committee and former Public Counsel for the Texas Office of Public Utility Counsel. She is currently an energy consultant with a national practice, based in Austin, Texas.

To ensure reliable and affordable service remains a primary focus.

The Social Utility

Utilities across the country are experimenting with various new ways to communicate with customers—from Twitter feeds to text alerts. But few utilities have figured out how to integrate new media channels into a coherent customer engagement approach. A multi-tiered strategy will best serve the needs of customers—and the utility.

Author Bio: 

Paul Woods is industry solutions lead at HP Exstream Enterprise Software.

Mastering multi-channel communications for customer service success.

A Virtuous Cycle

Data and experience show that serving customers well translates into better rate case outcomes. Conversely, poor performance starts a downward slide. J.D. Power and Associates research shows the correlation between customer service and financial returns.

Figure 1 - Approved ROE And Customer Satisfaction
Figure 2 - Customer Expenses And Satisfaction
Figure 3 - Profitability and Customer Satisfaction
Figure 4 - Virtuous Cycle of Customer Satisfaction
Figure 5 - Rate Case Gap And Customer Satisfaction
Author Bio: 

Andrew Heath, Senior Director, Energy Practice, J.D. Power and Associates

How customer satisfaction drives returns on equity for regulated electric utilities.

Load as a Resource

Historically, grid operators tapped into voluntary load reduction as a last resort for keeping the lights on. But now, smart grid technologies and dynamic pricing mechanisms bring vastly greater potential for using load as a dispatchable resource. Effective implementation requires advanced technologies—and also foresight in creating programs, policies, and market mechanisms.

Author Bio: 

Audrey Zibelman is co-founder and CEO of Viridity Energy, and formerly was chief operating officer at PJM. Chika Nwankpa is a professor and Director of the Center for Electric Power Engineering (CEPE) at Drexel University. Alain Steven is co-founder and executive vice president of strategy at Viridity Energy, and formerly was chief technology officer at PJM. Allen Freifeld is senior vice president of law and public policy at Viridity Energy, and formerly was a commissioner on the Maryland Public Service Commission. 

Integrating controllable demand into real-time, security constrained economic dispatch.

Are We Smart Yet?

Yet another sweltering summer is causing its share of outages and supply problems, with predictable backlash from customers and policy makers. And with the advances we’ve seen in recent years, perhaps again we should be asking whether we’re adequately focused on our most critical mission: keeping the power on.

Author Bio: 

Michael T. Burr is Fortnightly’s editor-in-chief. Email him at

Rising expectations in the Dog Days of summer.