Terasen Gas works to create B.C. jobs with new proposed Prince George call

New centre supports plans to establish an in-house customer care department

SURREY, BC, Dec. 21 /CNW/ - Terasen Gas has finalized plans for the location of the first of two company-owned call centres to be established in the Province if approval is received from the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC). This announcement follows the application the company made in June to establish an in-house customer care department and customer information system. If the application is approved by the BCUC, the new call centres and services are expected to be in place by January 2012.

"This first of two new B.C.-based call centres would not only create over 100 new jobs in Prince George, but also provide the local community with future economic benefits," said Doug Stout, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, Terasen Gas. "If our application is approved, an in-house customer care department utilizing a new information technology platform and related processes would help us ensure we are able to deliver the types of services our customers require - now, and in the long-term."

A second centre, planned for the Lower Mainland, will support an additional 200 jobs required to support both call centre and billing operations.

The establishment of the new centres would represent a major change to how existing customer services are delivered to Terasen Gas customers. Currently, call centre and billing functions are delivered through an outsourced arrangement. If approved, the new in-house customer care services will provide Terasen Gas and its customers with a number of improvements, including:

    -   greater flexibility to implement new service offerings, including
        expanded energy conservation programs
    -   broader capabilities for customers to analyze their energy usage
    -   consolidated billing and electronic payment capabilities for
        commercial customers
    -   communication and service channels beyond the current telephone
    -   customer service delivered by B.C.-based, Terasen Gas employees who
        are more familiar with local energy and environmental considerations
    -   lower long-term cost to our customers of approximately $5 per year,
        compared to our current customer care structure

"This is great news for our city and the downtown core. By acquiring this building for their expanded operations, Terasen Gas has demonstrated a commitment to invest in, and grow upon, opportunities available in our city's downtown," said Dan Rogers, City of Prince George Mayor. "Throughout the years, we have developed a strong relationship with Terasen Gas in our community and we look forward to building upon that. On behalf of my colleagues on Council, it is a great privilege to welcome Terasen Gas to our downtown."

The benefits of this new customer care model will not be limited to Terasen Gas and our customers. An economic impact assessment conducted by KPMG, measuring direct, indirect and induced economic impacts of this new model, has determined that its contribution to provincial GDP in 2012 and beyond is expected to increase by over $25 million annually, and tax revenue at all levels are expected to increase by approximately $4.5 million annually.

"We are absolutely thrilled that Terasen Gas has selected Prince George for growing its business operations in British Columbia. Their choice is based on sound assessment of the competitive advantages we promote every day, including our skilled workforce and affordable business costs," said Tim McEwan, President and CEO of Initiatives Prince George. "We are also very pleased that the site they have selected can remain a call centre consistent with the previous use, contributing to over 100 jobs in the city's downtown. This is a big win for Initiatives Prince George and the City of Prince George."

Terasen Gas is requesting a decision on its application early next year, in order to implement the changes by January 2012. To read the application or learn more about Terasen Gas customer care, 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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