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Newly designed PSEG electric bills going out this week

PSEG Long Island crews transfer power lines to

PSEG Long Island crews transfer power lines to new utility poles along Montauk Highway in West Islip on Thursday, July 10, 2014. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Hundreds of thousands of electric customers this week have begun receiving newly designed PSEG Long Island bills as the company works to address a major complaint that old bills were difficult to read and understand.

The new bills, as previously reported, sport more color, contain more digestible information about electric usage, and feature the most important information — such as the amount due — more prominently. PSEG spent $2 million over two years to complete the redesign.

Graphs on the back also include a comparison to last year’s monthly bill and the average temperatures for each month. The new bills also provide more information on the components that make up each bill.

The shift to easier-to-read bills is part of a PSEG effort to increase customer satisfaction, which had lagged under LIPA and its contractor National Grid, before PSEG took over in 2014. Bills haven’t been redesigned since 2004.

“I think we’re definitely looking for a bump in customer satisfaction” from new bills, said Fred Daum, director of customer contact and billing at PSEG. New bills began shipping to customers in waves of 50,000 a day beginning on Sunday. Even the 110,000 customers who receive a paperless bill will see their bill with the redesign, he said.

“It’s much easier to read, and we’re eliminating the need to do some of the math,” Daum said.

The new bills will feature a message center on the top left-hand side of the front of bills, where customers can also find the next meter reading date. A graph showing energy usage for the past 12 months is in color, and it includes a comparison of the daily cost.

Customers now will tear the payment stub from the bottom of the bill rather than the top.

At least one customer wasn’t impressed. “My own personal (one-person) focus group unanimously prefers a colorless, smaller-format bill featuring lower rates and smaller balances due,” Richard Siegelman, a Plainview ratepayer, wrote to Newsday on seeing the new bills.

All customer classes will receive new bills, Daum said, including those receiving balanced bills. That program, which divides charges into 12 equal payments over the year, is set for a revamping in late September, when PSEG will cease the practice of adjusting the charges as fuel and other costs shift. PSEG will offer customers the opportunity to adjust just once a year, midway through the cycle. It addresses complaints that the stable-billing program had seen too many adjustments.

PSEG is also implementing a series of upgrades to its MyAccount online customer billing system. The changes will go live by the end of September, Daum said.

A new MyAccount page on the PSEG website will streamline all online customer transactions to three steps or fewer. That includes paying bills, reporting outages and even setting up a new account, which in the previous version involved seven or eight steps. Customers will be able to send a photo of their meter to avoid an estimated reading (they can also call in meter readings).

Business customers with multiple accounts will be able to access all of them with a single logon, and pay amounts due in a single transaction.

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