Service Quality and Reliability Results
By Louis Porter
Washington Electric Cooperative annually reports to state regulators how well it provided service to its members over the last year. The Service Quality and Reliability Plan, or SQRP, report consists of 12 categories designed to take a snapshot of where we are doing well and where we need to improve.
While this report is filed with the Vermont Public Utility Commission, it is also a useful tool for those at WEC and for those we serve to track performance and highlight trends.
As in past years, WEC’s performance was good in most of the category areas, meeting the required goals in all but one of the categories. We did not meet our goal for the average time it takes to restore power during an outage, and more on that is below.
It is important to note that some of these measures do not include major storm periods, and of course, WEC workers and members dealt with significant outages and delays in restoration in the aftermath of Winter Storm Elliott.
1. Work Safety Performance. The safety of WEC workers and of the general public is of great importance and is a top priority for WEC. The job of any electrical utility worker can be difficult, strenuous, and poses significant risks. Given WEC’s service territory, with relatively few workers and many miles of power lines, and with some of those lines being far away from roads, those dangers can be even higher in our part of Vermont.
WEC experienced one incident resulting in loss of time in 2022 when a line worker was injured during restoration of an outage. Fortunately, that worker has recovered and been able to return to work at WEC.
2. Outage Incidents. The System Average Interruption Frequency Index, or SAIFI, measures the average number of outage incidents that occurred per member, exclusive of major storms. Our goal is no more than 3.8 outages per member, and we averaged 3.0 in 2022.
3. Outage Duration. The Customer Average Interruption Duration Index, or CAIDI, measures the average time it takes to restore power when there was an outage, exclusive of major storms. Our goal is to restore power in 2.7 hours, and in 2022 we missed that objective and restored power in 4.3 hours on average.
4. Calls not answered within 20 seconds. One of our requirements from regulators is that we answer calls to WEC within 20 seconds in all but 15 percent of the cases. In 2022, we met that measurement after not succeeding in the prior two years. WEC was able to fully staff its member service representative positions for 2022, which likely helped us meet this metric.
5. Bills not rendered in seven days. Our goal is to have no more than 0.1 percent of bills (one in 1,000) issued more than seven days after they were supposed to go out. No bills were issued late in 2022 to WEC’s members.
6. Bills found inaccurate. No more than 0.10 percent of all bills (one in 1,000) sent out should be inaccurate. We met that goal, with no bills for the year inaccurate when sent out. This was an improvement over 2020, when there were 29 bills found inaccurate, and over 2021, when we had 14.
7. Payment posting complaints. Our target is no more than 0.05 percent of members (one in 2,000) having complaints about payments not being posted promptly and accurately to their accounts. We had no complaints in 2022, exceeding the goal.
8. Meter readings a month. Although there are situations in which a meter cannot be read and WEC has to issue an estimated bill, the goal is to have that occur no more than five percent of bills, or five in 100. In 2022 there were no bill estimated meter readings.
9. Requested work not done on time. When we extend lines to new homes or do work requested by members, we try hard to do that work efficiently and on time. Although this can be a challenge for a small organization, particularly when WEC has seen a large number of new service requests during the pandemic, we have a target of no more than five percent of jobs not being completed on time. In 2022, as in past years, all jobs were completed on time.
10. Average delay days after missed delivery date. This measure is not applicable, given that all jobs were completed on time as noted above.
11. Customer satisfaction. WEC conducts a professional survey of members every five years to gauge customer satisfaction. The most recent survey was completed in 2020, and WEC received high marks in most categories. Overall, members satisfaction was good, with a mean rating of 8.34 (out of 10), with 57 percent of respondents giving a 9 or 10. We will conduct the next survey in 2025.
12. Complaints to DPS/Consumer Affairs. Vermonters who get their electricity from any of the state’s utilities can report those problems to the Consumer Affairs & Public Information Division of the Department of Public Service. The Department then contacts the utility to get more information. In most cases, those issues are resolved through discussion or the DPS determines there was no basis for the complaint. However, if the DPS determines that a utility has not done something right and requires that it be corrected this is recorded as an “escalation.” WEC’s SQRP requires that the number of escalations not exceed 0.07 percent of our membership (or about 7 per year). In 2022, as in 2021, no escalations were reported.