WEC’s 2023 Report Card By The Numbers

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Service Quality and Reliability Plan Results
SQRP 2023

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 WEC and those we serve to track performance and highlight trends.

In 2023, WEC fell short in two of the categories in which the cooperative has struggled in the past to meet our goals. First, 18% of calls were not answered within 20 seconds. The standard WEC is expected to meet is that only 15% of calls linger past that period of time. Second, we did not meet the requirement for the length of time members are out of power, or the Customer Average Interruption Duration Index. 

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 jobs of any electrical utility workers can be difficult, strenuous and pose 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. Although WEC experienced an incident resulting in loss of time in 2022, happily the Co-op did not have such an incident during 2023.
  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 2.8 in 2023, an improvement over 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 2023 we missed that objective and restored power in 3.2 hours on average. That was still an improvement over 2022.
  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% of the cases. In 2023, we did not meet that measurement, with 18% of calls lingering too long. After having increased staff capacity and meeting the metric in 2022, we had hoped we had made progress on a long-running issue for WEC. We are working with the call answering service which handles after hours and excess calls, and with our own staff, to improve.
  5. Bills not rendered in seven days. Our goal is to have no more than 0.1% of bills (one in 1,000) issued more than seven days after they were supposed to go out. No bills were issued late in 2023 to WEC’s members.
  6. Bills found inaccurate. No more than 0.1% of all bills (one in 1,000) sent out should be inaccurate. We meet that goal, but still have room for improvement with 0.5%of bills inaccurate.
  7. Payment posting complaints. Our target is no more than 0.05% of members (one in 2,000) having complaints about payments not being posted promptly and accurately to their accounts. We had no complaints in 2023, exceeding the goal, as we did in 2022.
  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 for no more than five percent of bills, or five in 100. In 2023 0.17% of bills were based on 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 in recent years, we have a target of no more than five percent of jobs not being completed on time. In 2023, 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% of respondents giving a 9 or 10. We will conduct the next survey next year.
  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 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% of our membership (or about seven per year). In 2023, as in 2022, no escalations were reported.