This blog previously discussed the extra steps that Massachusetts took to ensure that residents remained informed throughout Hurricane Sandy. However, some East Coast utility companies are now paying the price for how they handled customer communication during other storms.
While severe weather can be unpredictable, when a business partners with a 24 7 answering service they will provide customers with a number of options for two-way communication. That way, when individuals want to know the status of their utilities throughout a storm, they can either use phone, text messaging or online customer services.
According to the Boston Globe, Massachusetts issued $24.8 million in fines against three utilities for their response to the power outages last year that put hundreds of thousands of people in the dark after Tropical Storm Irene and the Halloween snowstorm.
"Regulated utilities must be accountable to the residents they serve. After conducting a thorough investigation, the Department of Public Utilities has done just that," Governor Deval Patrick said in a statement. "I trust this will encourage the utilities to refocus their efforts on preparation for and response to weather events in the future."
The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities said that the money would be returned to the utility customers. National Grid has been ordered to pay $18.725 million, NStar owes $4.075 million and Western Massachusetts Electric Company has been assessed $2 million.
Werner Schweiger, president of NStar Electric told the news source that he disagreed with the penalties and that the department has ignored the tireless effort put forth by his employees to respond to customers during those times.
He added that with 80 percent of NStar's overhead circuits damaged after Hurricane Irene alone, they essentially had to rebuild the electric system while restoring power.
In an increasingly digital age, it's not surprising for customers to expect that different communication options are available to them. With an answering service, all of those needs could be met.