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Utility-Customer Partnerships

Engaging the consumer takes on new meaning.

Fortnightly Magazine - October 2010

to focus specifically on customers?

McLeod, APS: At APS, we value our customers as we always have. For the 124 years that our company has provided power to Arizona, APS has realized that while our business is about building power plants and distribution lines, it’s also about building relationships with our communities and our customers. Our customers are the reason we are in business.

When I was named the company’s first chief customer officer three years ago, the obvious intention was to bring a more intense focus on customers. The question is, why was this needed? Independent research, as well as our own surveys, already showed high levels of customer satisfaction. But APS management recognized changes on the horizon that would challenge our ability to retain those high satisfaction levels. We see increasing emphasis on energy efficiency, demand management, distributed generation and renewable energy, as well as customer demand for higher reliability and more service choices.

Fortunately, we also see the potential for new technologies to help us adapt to, and manage, the rapid changes we are facing. And to realize the full benefit of new technologies requires unprecedented levels of customer interaction and acceptance. Without customer participation, our company cannot take full advantage of the efficiencies promised by new technologies. Clearly, a major challenge of my job is to implement, test and evaluate the impact and cost effectiveness of those products for our customers.

As the APS CCO, I bring the needs of customers to the table when management discusses issues like renewable energy and energy efficiency that will profoundly impact our business. Because of this emphasis on customers, when APS thinks ‘how will this impact our business?’ at the same time we ask ‘how will this impact our customers?’ We never forget that one will inevitably affect the other.

Jackson, Oncor: When the Texas electric market was deregulated, retailers told us they would take care of customers. But after two of the worst storms in Oncor’s history and the installation of a million smart meters, customers let us know they weren’t getting the information they needed or expected from their retailers, and Oncor realized we needed to step up. Early in my career I worked closely with customers, so I’m thrilled to see us returning to this role.

Forline, PSE&G: The customers and communities we serve have been important to our company since its founding in 1903. In fact, “public service” is part of our company name. This focus has been one of the keys to our long record of success, and we couldn’t imagine being any other way.

In recent years, we have deepened this commitment by aggressively pursuing programs that help our customers and communities be greener. Today we are a national leader in solar and energy efficiency.

Two innovative programs are at the heart of PSE&G’s efforts to increase renewable energy use in New Jersey. The first is our highly successful solar loan program, which helps remove customers’ financial barriers to installing solar systems on homes and businesses. To date, we’ve helped finance the installation of more