Terasen Gas finalizes plans to bring customer care services back to B.C.



    
    In-house services would benefit customers and the regional economy
    through job creation
    

    SURREY, BC, Sept. 1 /CNW/ - Terasen Gas has now filed its final plans for
enhancing the company's customer care services with the British Columbia
Utilities Commission (BCUC). This filing updates the application Terasen Gas
submitted to the BCUC in June. It provides additional information about the
company's plans to establish an in-house customer care department, with two
new B.C.-based locations for call centres and billing operations, and a new
customer information system. If approved, the new services would be in place
by January 2012.
    "While we are still finalizing details on the locations of the call
centre and billing operations facilities, I am pleased to say that we have
reached an agreement with our union, Canadian Office and Professional
Employees (COPE 378)," said Doug Stout, Vice President of Marketing and
Business Development, Terasen Gas. "We are now in a position to announce today
that approximately 300 new marketplace competitive jobs, along with
incremental economic benefits, would be created in the province if the
application is approved."
    The current outsourced arrangement for customer care services has already
been in place for more than seven years, realizing a benefit for customers. In
that time however, customers' needs and the B.C. energy marketplace have
changed substantially and continued change is expected. Also, there is a need
to provide an updated customer information system to replace the existing one
that has been in service for more than 10 years.
    With an in-house customer care department and B.C.-based staff, Terasen
Gas would have more opportunities to provide knowledge and expertise related
to energy conservation and the provincial energy marketplace to customers. The
company would also have direct control and management of the call centres and
billing department, and the staffing and training of employees that are needed
to deliver services to customers.
    This customer care model would be supported by a new customer information
system that provides customers with a variety of ways to interact with the
company, beyond telephone services. An updated system would also provide
Terasen Gas and its customers with a number of improvements, such as:

    
    -   improved flexibility to implement new service offerings, such as
        expanded energy conservation programs;
    -   improved capabilities for customers to analyze their energy usage
        online; and
    -   improved services for businesses by being able to introduce
        additional consolidated billing and electronic payment capabilities.
    

    "As our customers' needs change, we must respond by reflecting those
changes in the services we deliver," said Stout. "An in-house customer care
department as well as an updated technology platform would ensure we can offer
the types of services our customers need."
    Existing customer care costs are recovered through delivery rates, and
over the long term there are no additional costs to customers as a result of
the project. However, depreciation of the initial investment leads to a short
term increase in the cost per customer of $8.60 in 2013, if the application is
approved. For a typical residential customer in the Lower Mainland, their
annual bill would increase by approximately 0.7 per cent. After 2013,
customers will pay less for customer care as costs decrease each year.
    Terasen Gas is requesting a decision on its application early next year,
in order to implement the changes by January 2012. Project costs are
anticipated to be $122 million.
    To read the application or learn more about Terasen Gas, visit
terasengas.com

    Terasen Gas is mainly composed of the operations of Terasen Gas Inc. and
Terasen Gas (Vancouver Island) Inc., both indirect wholly owned subsidiaries
of Fortis Inc. Fortis Inc., the largest investor-owned distribution utility in
Canada, serves more than two million gas and electric customers and has total
assets approaching $12 billion. Its regulated holdings include Terasen Gas and
electric utilities in five Canadian provinces and three Caribbean countries.
Fortis Inc. owns non-regulated hydroelectric generation assets across Canada
and in Belize and upper New York State. It also owns hotels and commercial
real estate in Canada. Fortis Inc. shares are listed on the Toronto Stock
Exchange and trade under the symbol FTS. Additional information can be
accessed at www.fortisinc.com or www.sedar.com.





For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Kirsten Walker, Communications
Specialist, Terasen Gas Inc., Phone: (604) 592-7507, Email:
kirsten.walker@terasengas.com

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TERASEN GAS

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