Has anyone actually had a positive experience with a Utility?
CI Works purchased commercial real estate knowing that we would have fairly significant utility bills in an older building full of tenant companies. That was not a surprise…..what was the surprise was the arrogance of the utility. After closing on the real estate purchase – we were informed by NGrid that in order to transfer ownership of the electric meter, we would have to make an up front payment in the amount of 2 months utility bills (largest recent month *2) in order to keep getting electricity to the building. Has anyone else experienced this because I can’t find anyone that has? It actually felt a bit like extortion – but what is the alternative to a utility? We negotiated a payment plan to cover the upfront charges with the utility, that we have subsequently honored and kept current.
We also later found that the utility was charging our meter at a G-3 meter rate applicable to large manufacturing users. CI Works has created a different use at the building over the previous 4 years with reduced electricity usage, which NGrid actually measures and is supposed to monitor for variances and notify customers. They just didn’t tell anyone that the reduced usage and changed business use made us eligible for a different class of meter with lower electricity costs. The utility expected that we would know their playbook????? Then a tooth and nail battle ensued to convince the utility that they should actually do what is required of them. We have a G2 meter now but they were reluctant to retroactively credit for prior months amounts paid. Does this sound right?
We were informed in January of 2019 that NGrid supported the Massachusetts Small Business Energy Exemption (program to waive sales taxes on energy for small business) and that all we had to do was inform them we qualified and then follow up with the state paperwork. We did so. Yet NGrid continued to charge sales tax through April of 2019 when our new power supply company came on-line. In other words they never complied, they were simply stripped of the responsibility by another vendor. When we presented the paperwork in July of 2019, they refused to refund the previously charged tax and left us to attempt to obtain a refund from MDOR. Again, really???
CI Works is committed to reducing the negative impact of our building (100+ years old) on the environment through reducing use of carbon fuels. Electricity and natural gas usage became our targets because of high costs and because the same utility uses carbon fuels in their generation of these supplies. We opted to utilize existing rebates / incentives through offered existing utility programs to upgrade both our lighting in the building and more efficient and ‘smart’ thermostats. We progressed as far as having a signed agreement in place with National Grid to replace all of the building lighting with LED’s and upgrade all of the thermostats . Both of these upgrades included an on bill financing option offered by the utility. The good news is…….we have reduced electricity consumption over 10 months by 35% due to upgraded lighting and we are current on monthly payments.
Now, the bad news is that mid-stream post lighting installation and post contract signing, the utility decided that they don’t offer thermostats for commercial buildings and don’t have an applicable thermostat model selected for multi-phase commercial HVAC systems. NGrid just conveniently deselected that part of the contract we had signed that they no longer liked. They can contractually offer thermostats they can’t actually supply and then just take it away……from a signed agreement? Does anyone else think that an electric and gas utility might actually be required to know something about thermostats? Any other commercial entity would find themselves in breach of contract and would have to deliver on commitments. I have been told that NGrid had been installing single phase residential thermostats in commercial buildings that had failed (and possibly harmed the commercial HVAC units?) so decided to stop the program. I should be happy that they did not install the contractually obligated thermostats and damage my HVAC units. But, they can just waltz on a contractual commitment. Does this seem right either?
NGrid now offers a revised thermostat upgrade program for small commercial buildings, which we would like to participate in. We remain their customer. The program generally includes an on-bill financing option to customers. We chose that election since it had been part of the prior agreement and is at 0% financing, who wouldn’t? We were just informed that they are not going to offer us the on-bill financing option at this time. And that is although we are current with the monthly electric bills and the payment agreement and the on-bill financing for the lighting program. Wouldn’t you think a precedent would be worth something? They seem to not like the existence of a payment plan they instituted nor the noise we have raised, I guess. Again, does this sound right to anyone and could you possibly treat your customers this way? We can not.