Guest Blogger: Sarah Holsapple, Media Relations/Spokesperson, Citizens Energy Group
After a year of hard work, AGA member utility Citizens Energy Group launched a new and improved website last month. The new site is receiving rave reviews from both customers and employees. While the website has the same URL as our previous site, CitizensEnergyGroup.com has a brand new look and feel. Before I explain the features of the new website, let me provide some background as to why Citizens developed it in the first place.
In early 2013, Citizens began an initiative we dubbed Voice of the Customer in which we proactively sought feedback on all our business practices, including our website. Through dozens of conversations, customers told us we needed to improve the design and navigation of our site. With customer service being a top priority at Citizens, we took their suggestions to heart.
Besides the aesthetic differences to the website, we’ve added the following features to make the user experience more convenient:
- Fewer Clicks - Whether you’re looking for conservation tips or a link to pay your bill, our new website will get you there faster by offering just five category choices: My Account, My Home, My Business, Our Company and For Partners.
- Personalized Dashboard – Our new customer dashboard provides links to customers’ current and previous bills. The dashboard also provides quick links to important topics including payment options, starting and stopping service and conservation tips.
- Mobilization – In this day and age when many customers access our site on mobile devices, we’ve designed the site to be optimized for any screen size: smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.
- Convenient Communication – Over the next year, Citizens will add even more functionality allowing you to enroll in budget billing or to make flexible payment arrangements. We’ll also let you choose how you hear from us whether via text, email or by phone.
Citizens promoted the new website, designed in-house and built by Bitwise Solutions, Inc., through a press release, an email to customers and various forms of social media. Our customers have been pleased with the change and are commenting about how easy it is to pay bills on the new site and how quickly they can find information. When it comes to interacting with customers, Citizens’ website is one of our most powerful tools. Now that this tool is updated, easy to access on any device and user-friendly, we’re proving to customers that their voices are being heard.
Has your utility’s website recently gone through a redesign? Let AGA know in the comments section below.
How would your non-profit educational organization like to receive thousands of dollars in grants this summer? The Public Service Electric and Gas (PSEG) Foundation is currently accepting applications from afterschool, summer and youth development programs to develop new or enhance existing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educational opportunities for students.
The PSEG Foundation, the philanthropic arm of AGA member company PSEG, will consider applications from their New Jersey service territory, as well as Salem and Cumberland counties, and the service and operation territories in Long Island and Albany, New York, as well as Bridgeport and New Haven, Connecticut.
Each proposal will be evaluated based on the following factors:
- Focus on academic enrichment with already existing programming
- Strong, relevant and inspiring STEM content with focus on hands-on, experiential learning
- Emphasis on the application and mastery of problem solving, critical thinking and teamwork skills
- Number of students served
- A commitment to continuous improvement, with a focus on outcomes and evaluation
- Demonstrated level of involvement with local schools and/or families
- Capacity to implement and sustain new programming
- Demonstrated program sustainability
The Foundation anticipates awarding funding to eight organizations, although the number of recipients and their award amount will be decided based on the strength of the proposals received at the discretion of Foundation staff. Applications must be completed and submitted by Friday, August 15 at 5 p.m. EST. All applicants will receive notification about funding decisions in late September 2014.
Applicants interested in applying can do so directly through PSEG’s online application by clicking here. Check back with the AGA blog later this fall for an update on all the winning organizations.
This week, AGA member company NW Natural launched a new online tool designed to help the utility’s nearly 700,000 customers in Oregon and southwest Washington save energy and money.
The Energy Analyzer, available through NW Natural’s website, begins with a series of questions about customers’ energy use, including how much money they want to invest in potential projects. Once this step is completed, customers receive a wide range of suggestions to help improve the efficiency of their home based on varying factors including time, skill, budget and energy they’d like to save.
Developed with the help of the Energy Trust of Oregon, the Energy Analyzer also assists customers in comparing the amount of energy they use to similar homes in the surrounding area. Users can also sign up to receive ongoing e-mails reminding them to finish the energy-saving projects they’ve self-selected.
“Our customers are paying less for natural gas than they did 10 years ago,” said Cory Beck, NW Natural Communications & Internet Services Manager. “But, they can save even more money and energy when they take steps to improve the efficiency of their home.”
Customers who test out the Energy Analyzer from now through September 5 will automatically be entered into a contest to win a tankless water heater. Visit www.nwnatural.com for complete contest rules.
With its domestic abundance, efficiency and low emissions profile, natural gas has an important role in supporting safe and sustainable homes and businesses throughout the nation. Day in and day out, more than 177 million Americans rely on natural gas for heating, cooling, hot water, cooking and more. AGA and its member companies are dedicated to continually enhancing the safe, reliable delivery of natural gas to America’s buildings, as well as to helping customers understand how to maximize their energy usage, and that’s why AGA is proud to be next week’s (May 26-31) sponsor of the International Code Council’s Building Safety Month.
With the theme “Building a Brighter, More Efficient Tomorrow,” AGA is sharing information on the extraordinary efficiency of natural gas, the benefits of using natural gas directly in home appliances, and tips on how customers can achieve even greater savings for their wallet and the planet. For instance, did you know:
- When used directly, natural gas achieves 92 percent energy efficiency.
- A household with natural gas vs. all-electric appliances produces 37 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions and results in 28 percent less energy consumption.
- Natural gas appliances for home heating can help customers cut their energy bills in half.
While simply converting to natural gas can help consumers save on their monthly utility bills, natural gas utilities are committed to helping their customers save even more. Your local utility can suggest how to weatherize your home or business, how to reduce energy consumption, and may even offer rebates and discounts on energy efficient appliances and home or building efficiency improvements. In 2012, utilities invested $1.1 billion in natural gas efficiency programs that helped customers reduce their typical annual natural gas usage by an average 16 percent and save $117 in annual energy costs – in total saving 136 trillion Btu of energy and offsetting 7.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. You can find more information about energy efficiency and natural gas utilities here.
Utilities are focused on the safe and reliable delivery of this foundation fuel to millions of Americans every day, and safety is the top priority for AGA and its members. The industry continues to take action to further enhance the safety and reliability of its systems. The industry has multiple safeguards in place to protect their customers, and they work to spread public awareness messages so that customers can actively participate in the safety of their homes, businesses and communities. Here’s how you can help ensure your safety around natural gas:
- Properly maintain gas appliances and fuel lines.
- Call 811 before embarking on any excavation or digging project – even planting.
- Report the smell of natural gas to your local natural gas utility. Utilities odorize natural gas with Mercaptan – which smells similar to rotten eggs – to help customers detect leaks.
- Be attentive to safety communications provided by your utility.
- Help your kids understand natural gas safety with resources like AGA’s Kids Safety Video.
More information on Building Safety Month and Natural Gas: