Survey Reveals Satisfaction with UI’s Post-Sandy Performance
Customers Understand Magnitude of Task to Restore Electric Service
An overwhelming majority of customers reported satisfaction with key aspects of The United Illuminating Company’s response after Hurricane Sandy, according to a survey conducted shortly after the storm.
Approximately 4 in 5 UI customers said restoration times were reasonable given the magnitude of the storm. And nearly 9 in 10 said they were satisfied with UI’s handling of customers, the survey found.
Hurricane Sandy, which reached Connecticut on Oct. 29, was the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, and one of the costliest. UI restored a cumulative total of 280,000 customer outages, and had electric service back to virtually all customers within eight days.
“After Hurricane Sandy, we witnessed many examples of customers reaching out to our personnel, contractors and mutual assistance partners and thanking them for their hard work,” said James P. Torgerson, chief executive officer of UI’s parent company, UIL Holdings Corporation (NYSE: UIL). “This survey confirms what we experienced in the field — that our customers understood the magnitude of the task we faced in rebuilding our electric system after this devastating storm. We, in turn, are immensely grateful for their patience.”
The telephone survey of UI customers was conducted by the Center for Research in Meriden, Conn. between Nov. 15 and Nov. 20. The polling method provides a 95 percent level of confidence that results fall within a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.
Respondents represented all communities within UI’s service territory, 70 percent of them living in coastal communities hit especially hard by Sandy.
Overall, 79.2 percent of customers surveyed said restoration periods were reasonable given the magnitude of the storm. That number was closely matched within the subgroup living in coastal communities, where 78.5 percent felt the post-storm restoration period was reasonable.
A majority of respondents also felt their needs were met by UI. Some 86.1 percent of overall customers and an even higher share of coastal customers, 86.6 percent, reported that they were satisfied with UI’s handling of customers after the storm.
UIL Warns: Utility Theft Doesn’t Pay
Stealing energy could lead to injury, prison or death
Thieves who tamper with utility facilities to steal energy or equipment are putting their lives and freedom on the line, UIL Holdings Corporation and The United Illuminating Company warned.
The company issued the warning after a man suffered third-degree burns cutting into a live UI power cable on Nov. 29 in New Haven. Some 3,000 UI customers briefly lost electric service due to the incident. On the same day, Milford police, acting on a complaint from UI, arrested a local man on charges he stole more than $5,000 worth of electricity from UI by tampering with his electric meter.
The company has a full division dedicated to protecting infrastructure assets, and these individuals practically work as full-time detectives. They employ a variety of sophisticated tools to detect theft and fraud, including analysis of usage patterns.
“We work on an ongoing basis with police and other law-enforcement agencies to root out those who tamper with our equipment or steal energy,” said Joseph Thomas, UI’s vice president for Electric System Operations and Client Fulfillment. “In each and every case, we use all of the legal tools available to us and seek prosecution to the fullest extent of civil and criminal law.”
The company warned that there is generally no way to tell if a line or piece of equipment is carrying potentially fatal voltages of electricity. Tampering with electric meters or other equipment not only poses a grave danger to the thief, but also to anyone else who may come into contact with that equipment.
“No matter how lucrative these criminals may think this is, it’s not worth a life,” said Anthony J. Vallillo, UI’s president and chief operating officer. “These kinds of senseless acts endanger our workers and members of the public.”
Theft of utility service is illegal. Signs of energy theft include evidence of tampering with electric meters, such as strange wires, jumper cables, or holes drilled into the equipment. Other indications of possible theft include efforts to restrict access to the utility meters on a property, or people who are not utility employees working on utility meters or equipment.
Anyone with information about energy theft or tampering with utility equipment should report it to the utility. If there is imminent danger, dial 911. To report theft of utility service, call:
- The United Illuminating Company: 800-891-2922
- Southern Connecticut Gas Company & Connecticut Natural Gas Corporation: 800-860-3309
- Berkshire Gas Company: 800-292-5012, or 413-499-1680.
Energy Assistance Available for Winter Gas Bills
NEW HAVEN, Conn., Dec. 6, 2012 — UIL Holdings Corporation (NYSE: UIL) reminds its natural gas heating customers who may have trouble paying winter heating bills that now is the time to apply for energy assistance. UIL gas operating companies in Connecticut include The Southern Connecticut Gas Company (SCG), which serves the Greater New Haven-Bridgeport region; and Connecticut Natural Gas (CNG), which serves the Greater Hartford-New Britain area and Greenwich.
SCG /CNG offers a Matching Payment Program (MPP) designed to help heating customers keep up with their gas bill payments. MPP includes energy assistance and a utility match in addition to a customer payment. An outstanding gas bill can be reduced substantially by participating in the plan. Applying is easy and confidential, and approval is quick! The Matching Payment Plan is available only to home heating customers of SCG or CNG.
Natural gas customers who received energy assistance during the 2011-12 heating season automatically are enrolled for the current heating season.
To be eligible for the MPP, gas heating customers of SCG/CNG must contact their local community action agency to first apply for and receive an energy assistance commitment.
Customers of SCG and CNG who exceed energy assistance guidelines but still need help should contact Operation Fuel (dial 211).