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PSEG Long Island boosts business satisfaction rating, survey finds

A PSEG truck comes out of the service

A PSEG truck comes out of the service yard on Jan. 1, 2014. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

PSEG Long Island boosted satisfaction among business customers on a new survey, but the utility still ranks last in business satisfaction among large national utilities.

Since taking over operations a year ago, PSEG raised the Long Island electric utility's score among businesses surveyed by 70 points, to 595 of a possible 1,000, according to a new J.D. Power poll. Last year the Long Island Power Authority scored 525 on the poll. LIPA long had been among the lowest-ranked large utilities nationally in the survey, and its score had been declining in recent years.

PSEG's improvement followed a broader trend of higher scores among dozens of big utilities in business customer satisfaction, J.D. Power said. A survey of residential customers is due out later this year.

Con Edison ranked third among large eastern utilities, with a score of 671, and National Grid's upstate electric utility ranked fourth, at 663.

PSE&G of New Jersey, the local utility's sister company, ranked first among 13 eastern utilities, with a score of 685.

J.D. Power attributed the generally higher scores to improvements in power quality, a measure of performance in keeping the lights on and communicating with customers during outages, and reliability.

The 2015 study is based on online interviews with businesses that spend at least $200 a month on electricity. It was conducted in two parts last year, from April through June and July through November..

PSEG spokesman Jeff Weir called the 70-point increase "a definite win for us, but we know we still have much to do."

He credited the increase to a range of improvements the utility has made since taking over last year, including increased communication with customers and a new outage management system that provides better information about restoration times.

John Hazen, senior director with J.D. Power, said PSEG Long Island's increase was the largest year-over-year jump of any large utility in the country.

Hazen said a large part of LIPA's recent decline in the rankings was tied to superstorm Sandy in 2012, and "memories start to fade." In addition, PSEG wasn't hit with a major storm in its first year, Hazen noted. Some 400 PSEG Long Island customers were interviewed for the survey.

"There's still work to be done as you can see from the overall rankings," putting PSEG Long Island last, Hazen said. But "they are definitely trending in the right direction."

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