Public utility companies — and most any utility company for that matter — that don’t field an occasional complaint from disgruntled customers are ... well, probably nonexistent.
The true measure, according to the Better Business Bureau of Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia, is not in how few or how many such complaints are received but in how they are handled.
That’s the premise on which Cleveland Utilities has again been recognized by the local BBB chapter with a “Complaint Free” certificate, members of the Cleveland Board of Public Utilities learned in a recent formal gathering. In a report by Ken Webb, senior vice president and CFO who assumed the presidency and CEO duties on Oct. 1 following the retirement of Tom Wheeler, the local utility has again been honored by the consumer advocacy organization.
According to the certificate signed by James T. Winsett, president and CEO, and Gidget M. Knight, vice president of Operations, the “BBB Complaint Free” recognition means Cleveland Utilities has excelled in how it handles consumer concerns.
According to its wording, the “BBB Complaint Free” award is presented to BBB accredited businesses “... for maintaining a complaint free record with the Better Business Bureau serving Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia for the last 12 months.” The period runs from Aug. 1, 2012, through July 31, 2013.
In his brief presentation to the utility board, Webb stressed the award does not mean Cleveland Utilities never receives a complaint from customers. It does. He said CU’s distinction is that it has staff members in Customer Service whose role is to work closely with complaining customers in order to hear their concerns and respond in an immediate and professional manner.
“We deal with the problems,” Webb told the board. He pointed to dedicated CU personnel who work customer issues until they are finalized to the satisfaction of the consumer.
Although Cleveland Utilities is never assured of receiving the favorable BBB recognition, the local utility provider has earned the advocacy group’s accolades for several years in a row.
On hand to hear Webb’s report were CU board Vice Chairman Eddie Cartwright, and board members Chari Buckner and Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, the latter of whom represents the Cleveland City Council on the utility’s governing body. Board chairman Aubrey Ector and board member Joe Cate could not attend the session.
In other developments, the utility board:
- Approved a purchase order with CSL Services Inc. in the amount of $84,000 for long-term flow monitoring which includes annual maintenance, data collection and reporting for 14 flow meters. Flow monitoring is a tool used to help determine where inflow is occurring and whether utilities are eliminating it. CU is under contract with CSL Services Inc. to provide flow monitoring services.
- Approved a purchase order with Sherman & Reilly Inc., c/o Yoder Sales Agency Inc., in the amount of $196,684 for a Trailer-Mounted Pulling Rig. This is a 12,000-pound pulling rig and will replace the existing 1973 model pulling rig. It will be used by the line crew to pull both overhead and underground distribution and transmission lines.
- Approved an agreement with Consolidated Technologies Inc. in the amount of $28,000 for engineering services which includes design, bidding and construction services as part of the improvements to Waterville Springs for compliance with the EPA-Cryptosporidium Rule. Craig Mullinax, vice president of the CU Water Division, explained that because Waterville Springs is an unfiltered source of water, CU is required by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation to provide secondary treatment for the protection of its customers.
- Approved an agreement with Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. in the amount of $46,500 for engineering services for the Distribution System Hydraulic Model Update and Verification.
- The Cleveland Board of Public Utilities will next meet in formal session on Thursday, Oct. 24, at 3 p.m. in the Tom Wheeler Training Center.