The Scoop

Thiele Calls PSEG Mailer Misleading ‘Propaganda’

PSEG Long Island recently sent a mailer to all the households and businesses it serves and has come under fire from New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, of Sag Harbor, who calls it “propaganda” from the utility company that took over the electric grid from LIPA.

“The glossy, full colored, 6 panel mailer to PSEG-LI/LIPA customers touted how much customer satisfaction has improved under PSEG-LI according to a J.D. Power survey,” a press release from Thiele’s office states. The release points out that while PSEG’s J.D. Power score was the most improved among utilities, PSEG ranks last in the nation and is the only utility with a score below 600, while the national average is 677 out of 1000. PSEG’s improvement is compared to LIPA’s customer satisfaction ratings during Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene.

“The fact is, the survey is measuring that nationally customers are less angry today than they were right after two of the worst hurricane seasons and the worst economic downturn in recent history,” the release states. “There has not been any great improvement in customer satisfaction on Long Island when compared to the national average.”

Thiele said, “PSEG-LI is last in the nation in customer satisfaction and has the chutzpah to ask for a rate increase and send out a mailer to its customers telling them how satisfied they are. By the way, don’t you think customers can figure that out for themselves without a costly mailing? Last place finishes should not be rewarded. Unfortunately, PSEG-LI and LIPA are judge and jury in determining the rate increase.”

PSEG Long Island spokesman Jeffrey Weir pointed out that PSEG sent a similiar mailer in 2014, soon after in took over the operation of the power grid. It detailed what PSEG hoped to accomplish over the next five years.

He compared the latest mailer, which went out to PSEG’s 1.1 million customers, to a report card. It explains what promises were made, what promises were kept, how PSEG performed, and what PSEG is going to do moving forward, he said.

“We are still the lowest rated company by J.D. Power surveys, but we were the most improved in residential and commercial customer satisfaction over any other utility in the nation,” Weir said.

According to Weir, PSEG said from the beginning that it would take time for the utility to get to where it wants to be—a top quartile company, measured by J.D. Power and other metrics.

“This was a five-year commitment to our customers,” he said. “It was not going to turn around over night.”

PSEG, like most utilities, also has its own scorecard for itself, with 20 metrics, he noted. He said that in 2014, “we achieved or exceeded 19 of the 20 metrics,” which include energy efficiency, safe and reliable delivery of service, number of outages and duration of outages, and the budget.

While acknowledging PSEG’s low rank from J.D. Power, Weir said customers can look to how well the electric system and PSEG’s team performed during the 18 storms that hit Long Island soon after PSEG took over.

PSEG plans to further improve the infracture, reliability, commucations and customer satisfaction, he said. “Our work here has just begun—absolutely.”

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