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New Customer Service Standards Beginning for Ohio LDCs

Beginning Jan. 1, Ohio's natural gas customers will have safeguards and benefits provided by the state's recently adopted Natural Gas Service Standards. The new standards address service installation, metering, billing and customer service issues in an effort to ensure fair and reliable service.

The service standards require each gas utility company (LDC) to provide the Public Utility Commission of Ohio (PUCO) with a plan that includes the steps, notices and measures the company will take to read every customer meter at least once every 12 months. PUCO staff will review these plans to ensure greater communication between the company and the customer regarding meter reading. The standards also require meter readings upon initiation and termination of service.

Under the standards, natural gas companies must provide customers with appointment windows of four hours or less. If the company cannot meet a scheduled appointment, it must attempt to notify the customer and arrange a new appointment date and time. The standards require timelines and quality measures for the installation of service. The natural gas company will typically install service within five business days if no new construction is required and within 20 business days if the installation of a new service line or meter is required. Companies also must answer customer telephone calls in 90 seconds or less for natural gas company customer service centers, procedures for crediting customer bills in the event of overestimated meter readings or malfunctioning meters and requirements for handling customer disputes and payment arrangements.

PUCO initiated a proceeding in May 2005 to develop service rules to address issues identified through contact with natural gas customers from the PUCO consumer call center and website. For more information, visit www.puco.ohio.gov.

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