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The Buzz

NEWBERRY – Several enhancements are being made to utility delivery services for Newberry residents.

Dallas Lee, Director of Finance for the City, was excited to explain the new resources at a recent city commission meeting.

A state-of-the-art call center equipped to handle customer calls 24 hours a day, 365 days a year has been contracted. The center answers all after-hours calls to ensure customers are always able to speak to a representative and resolve concerns. The staff is trained to handle all aspects of utility billing such as account balance requests, starting or stopping service, over the phone payments and outage management.

City Manager Mike New said that having the call center available any time a customer calls is vital to good customer service. “It's frustrating to have a problem and not be able to reach someone who can help resolve the issue,” said New. “With the addition of these new services, our city is on par with any utility service. These changes make us a world class utility service.”

Another new utility feature is MyEnergyPlanner.com, a tool that allows customers to create a self-assessment profile to help manage electric usage. It takes less than five minutes to create a home profile and estimate a monthly bill. The web site also gives tips and suggestions on how to lower your bill and can be used to estimate potential savings. It is free to city customers.

“The City has utilized conservation funds from the Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) to fund this tool,” Lee said.

Free yearly energy and water audits are also now available. The audits emphasize education and low-cost, quick-payback improvements that can reduce energy and water consumption immediately. Recommendations are made for larger components such as HVACs, water heaters and other appliances. Customers are additionally informed of available rebates.

Conservation funds from FMPA likewise fund these audits.

“An interesting aspect of this option [the audits] is free die packs to help people identify whether their toilets are leaking,” said Lee. “Many people do not realize how much water is wasted because of toilet leaks. Hopefully, the die packs will be a big help to homeowners to help identify the problem.”

Lastly, the city has implemented an emergency mass contact system designed to record, send and track personalized voice, email, text and social media messages. The system can notify customers regarding severe weather, boil water notices, disconnect courtesy calls, or outages.

“The commissioners seem really pleased that we are using technology to enhance utility services to our customers,” Lee said. “The comments we have heard from the public have been really wonderful. People want to take charge of their utility services and resource usage, and we have given them an excellent way to do so. I think everybody is really pleased.”

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