Rochester Public Utilities | Blog

Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

RPU warns of utility scams

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) has heard from customers that scam calls are being made to some RPU customers. RPU staff has collected information regarding the scam from customers to share with all RPU customers and the Rochester community.

The Scam- The caller says that they are a representative from your utility company (sometimes they do not even name RPU) and that you are past due. They say that if payment isn’t paid over the phone, then you will be disconnected. Be aware though, that sophisticated technology and newer phone systems make it look like they are calling from RPU’s customer service phone number (507.280.1500).

Payment Method Requested- The caller usually will require you to purchase a pre-paid debit card and to provide the number of the card over the phone. Sometimes a credit card over the phone will be requested. Payments from a pre-paid debit card cannot be reversed.

Identifying a Scam- RPU will never request bank or secure personal information from you over the phone unless you ask to discuss your account. The RPU representative will then ask for information to identify who you are.

What to do if you receive a scam call

–          If someone calls threatening to cut off your power if you don’t pay, hang up.

–          Call RPU at 507.280.1500 to report the scam.

–          Never give personal or financial information to an unknown caller.

–          Remember that RPU will never use threatening language or make forceful demands for payment.
If you ever feel pressured or feel that something is not right, hang up and call RPU directly at 507.280.1500.

About Rochester Public Utilities

As the municipal utility of Rochester, Minn., for more than 110 years, RPU provides high-quality and reliable electricity to over 50,000 customers.  Water customers number more than 37,000.  RPU continually investigates innovative technologies to help customers realize the best value from the services they receive.  Current initiatives include fuel cell research, wind power, and photovoltaic offerings.

 

 

 

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RPU customer phone survey to begin June 1

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) will be working with a survey company to facilitate a phone survey from June 1- June 19.

As part of the process of preparing a long-term strategic plan for the utility, RPU is conducting this survey with over 1,200 randomly selected customers who will have the opportunity to participate and share their views about important issues. Customers may receive a call on either a landline or cell phone. If you receive a call on your cell phone while you are out and about, simply let the caller know and they will be happy set up a time to call back.

The survey questions have been designed to help RPU better understand the opinions of its customers about a variety of topics such as perceptions of the company, interactions with customer service and field service personnel, billing and alternative energy.

The survey itself will be conducted by GreatBlue Research, Inc., a professional research firm located in Cromwell, CT.  This survey will be vital in helping RPU understand the concerns and priorities of its customers and guide them in making decisions that best reflect the goals and expectations of the Rochester community.

If you have questions regarding the survey, call RPU at 507.280.1500.

 

About Rochester Public Utilities

As the municipal utility of Rochester, Minn., for more than 110 years, RPU provides high-quality and reliable electricity to over 50,000 customers.  Water customers number more than 37,000.  RPU continually investigates innovative technologies to help customers realize the best value from the services they receive.  Current initiatives include fuel cell research, wind power, and photovoltaic offerings.

 

 

 

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Department of Commerce, BBB warn of salespeople pitching energy savings from radiant barriers

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources and the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota have issued an alert to consumers who are considering the purchase of radiant barriers in their attics. Both Commerce and the BBB have received numerous reports of salespeople pitching the radiant barrier product at free dinners throughout Minnesota.

“We want consumers to know that radiant barriers are not a cost-effective way to reduce heating or cooling loads in Minnesota,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “Radiant barriers in attics may be valid for homes in southern states, but they save very little energy in Minnesota homes. They are a dubious energy investment—a bad deal for Minnesota homeowners.”

Radiant barriers consist of a reflective film, usually aluminum, laid over the top of attic insulation in existing homes. They are sold as an energy-saving product, with claims of significant reductions in both heating and cooling costs. However, their potential benefit is primarily in reducing air-conditioning cooling loads in warm or hot climates and in buildings with little or no insulation.

A Radiant Barrier Fact Sheet compiled by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy shows that the benefits of radiant barriers decrease significantly as one travels north. In southern cities like Miami, Fla., or Austin, Texas, radiant barriers could reduce one’s utility bill by as much as $150 per year using average residential electricity prices. But by the time you reach colder climate states such as Minnesota, where air-conditioning loads are considerably less, savings drop to only $10 to $40 a year. If there are no ducts or air handlers in the attic, the savings are much less.

If the price to install the radiant barrier is $2,500 or more and the consumer only saves $25 per year, it would take at least 100 years to pay back the investment. It’s also important to note that radiant barrier products have negligible benefit in reducing heating costs. It is unlikely that most Minnesota consumers would realize any measurable energy savings from radiant barriers in attics.

Buyers beware, know what you’re getting

“We strongly urge all consumers to be cautious, conduct due diligence, and explore other proven means to make their homes and businesses more energy efficient,” said Rothman. “Don’t be misled by ‘deals’ or ‘pilot programs’ available for a limited time only. Get input and bids from at least three contractors, and make sure those contractors are reputable.”

The U.S. Department of Energy and Minnesota Department of Commerce agree that, in Minnesota, implementing air sealing and adding conventional attic insulation would be considerably cheaper and much more effective for saving energy than installing a radiant barrier. In fact, as attic insulation levels increase, the potential benefits from a radiant barrier decrease. Getting a home energy assessment through your gas or electric utility is encouraged as a first step to identifying cost-effective energy improvements. Consumers can contact their utility to arrange an energy audit.

Before purchasing any energy-saving product, the Minnesota Department of Commerce and Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota advise you to:

  • Always research the business at bbb.org.
  • Ask for references and proof the company can substantiate their claims.
  • Do the math and figure out how long it will take to recoup your investment.
  • Verify a working address, phone number and website to ensure that you can contact the business with any questions or concerns.
  • If you have an unresolved issue or concerns about a questionable sales pitch regarding energy-saving devices, be proactive and file a formal complaint with the BBB at: the Federal Trade Commission, as well as with your state Attorney General’s Office.
  • Check energystar.gov to be sure the business or product is Energy Star approved.

The BBB also offers the following tips to consider before attending a free luncheon seminar:

  • Be aware that in most cases presenters will promote their products or services. Typical products sold at these seminars include energy-saving products, self- help materials, investment plans or websites for home-based businesses.
  • Do not be pressured into signing a contract or making a purchasing decision. Take as much time as you need to evaluate the company’s claims and/or the promotional materials you receive.
  • Read and understand all materials carefully before signing anything. Be sure to look for information on guarantees, warranties and refund policies.
  • Remember the FTC’s Cooling-Off Rule gives you three business days to cancel a contract if you sign it in your home or at a location other than the contractor’s permanent place of business, such as a restaurant or hotel/motel room.
  • Be sure to note any differences between the product at the luncheon and the product received if purchased.

For more information on insulation and other energy-efficient measures to improve your home, contact the Division of Energy Resources at 800-657-3710 or 651-539-1886 or visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce – Energy Division site. The website offers home energy guides, including the “Home Envelope” (.pdf) consumer guide that includes information on a wide range of energy efficiency topics (including air sealing and insulation) and choosing a contractor.

RPU Service Center Closed on Monday, September 2 in Observance of Labor Day

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

The RPU Service Center will be closed on Monday, September 2 in observance of Labor Day. Payments can be dropped off at a drop box location, made over the phone by calling 855-210-2285, or submitted online at www.rpu.org. Have a safe and happy holiday!

RPU Service Center Closed on July 4th

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

The RPU Service Center will be closed on Thursday, July 4 in observance of Independence Day. Payments can be dropped off at a drop box location, made over the phone by calling 855-210-2285, or submitted online at www.rpu.org. Have a safe and happy holiday!