The Winter of Discontent: Strategies to contain the damage of higher commodity prices

Sharply higher commodity and heating fuel prices can provoke anxiety among customers, as well as outrage among legislators and media outlets. In turn, utilities may also see their own costs rise sharply. As a result, utility executives will have to contend with an unusual set of performance, cost, and earnings challenges.

To avoid being caught in a public relations debacle that erodes customer satisfaction, cost structures, and goodwill, utilities need to create a thoughtful and coordinated a strategy that, by contrast, presents an opportunity to maintain or even improve customer satisfaction if customer concerns are dealt with promptly, fairly, and consistently.