Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Union and Utility Project Oppose KeySpan Proposal to Reduce Walk-in Gas Customer Service at Eight Long Island Offices and to Relocate Call Center to Brooklyn

KeysPan East Gas Corporation has filed a proposal with the PSC seeking to eliminate all customer service assistance (except for taking payments) at eight of its eleven long island customer assistance offices. In an update, the utility says it will put a courtesy phone in  8 centers linked to their call center, which they also propose to relocate, from Melville to Brooklyn.  The remaining 3 offices would have full service for 2 years, after that, no commitment is made. The 8 centers have provided about 43% of the walk-in services.

In addition to making payments at the utility offices, customers make written applications in situations for service where that can be required, negotiate repayment agreements to avoid imminent termination, and lodge customer service inquiries and complaints.

The utility union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local Union 1049, and New York's Utility Project have intervened in the case at the PSC to oppose the proposals. 

The PSC case is Case No. 13-G-0371, KeySpan Gas East Corporation d/b/a National Grid Customer Service Transition Update and Notice of Intent to Relocate Call Center                                                         

Section 65(13) of the Public Service Law requires the PSC to provide notice and a hearing on any relocation of customer assistance services or any relocation of a customer service call center prior to acting on a request:
 13.  (a)  Every  gas  corporation  or  electric corporation furnishing  utility services  shall  provide  the  following  call  center  customer  assistance  receiving  inquiries  on: customer financial responsibility;  receiving requests to initiate or terminate service; receiving  requests for  emergency  services;  determining deposit required or billing rate; receiving meter  and  service  orders  and  access  to  meter  requests; explaining  company rates, regulations, policies, procedures, and common practices; initiating trouble order forms and high bill  investigations; handling  payment  and  other  credit  arrangements  such  as  obtaining deposits,  financial  statements  and  payment  plans;   and   referring customers to social service agencies and other assistance programs.
(b)  No gas or electric corporation shall close a call center or other  facility providing the customer assistance set forth in paragraph (a) of this subdivision or relocate such customer assistance to another area of New York state or outside of New York state without notice  and  hearing   before the commission.  (c)  This  subdivision shall not apply to the collection of debt where by utility company policy such debt is directed to a  collection  agency or similar service companies.
The SAPA Notice issued by the PSC and published in the September 11, 2013 State Register covers only the proposed call center relocation and does not mention the proposed relocation of customer assistance services from the eight offices to the call center.

The Public Service Commission previously issued orders requiring walk-in customer service offices to be maintained by Con Edison, Rochester Gas & Electric (RG&E), and New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG).

Comments can be filed online with the PSC at 


On December 11, 2013, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local Union 1049 filed with the Public Service Commission a Motion for Hearings and Interim Relief .

On December 12, 2013, The PSC put the case on its "consent agenda" for its December 19, 2013 meeting.

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