Safe, high-quality water tops profit | Spencer Bruce, Creighton Mershon
Sourced by https://www.courier-journal.com/story/opinion/contributors/2017/07/27/high-quality-water-tops-profit-spencer-bruce-creighton-mershon/516436001
July 27, 2017
Louisville Water Company values the trust our customers place in us, and, after reading the guest contribution from John Potter, we felt compelled to respond. Over the past several years, we’ve spoken with Potter numerous times about the voluntary service-line protection program we offer our customers. While we respect his opinion on our partnership with HomeServe, many of the assertions in his column are simply not correct.
First, public health towers over anything else at Louisville Water. We provide a safe and high-quality supply of water to nearly one million people every day. To keep that service at some of the lowest rates in the region, Louisville Water continually looks for opportunities that not only offset the cost of producing water but provide a value to our customers. The voluntary service-line protection program provided by HomeServe is one of those solutions.
Louisville Water values its partnership with HomeServe and our customers benefit from this service. Each year, the revenue from this voluntary program is folded into our overall budget and used for infrastructure improvements to ensure we maintain the high level of water quality that customers expect and to keep water rates affordable. Perhaps more importantly, this program has allowed us to start a Customer Assistance Program by using a portion of the revenue, not ratepayer dollars, to help residents who may struggle to pay their water bill. Over 930 families benefited from this program in 2016.
Potter is incorrect when he asserts that Louisville Water chose HomeServe purely for profit. In 2007, we began offering this optional coverage after a thorough review where a technical evaluation, not pricing, was evaluated first. The quality of the program, customer service and contractor certification are reviewed first and must pass our standards before we evaluate pricing.
Comparing the value of this voluntary program to other cities in the United States just on the price of the service itself is misleading. The lowest cost does not always equal the best service. In our evaluation, it was important to choose a company that offered our customers 24/7 emergency response, no deductibles, free service calls, a warranty on the work and dedicated staff to oversee the entire repair process, from the initial call through job completion. Our customers have these benefits which may not be the case with other providers. Potter’s logic of only looking at the price and not the benefits associated with each policy is flawed.
Customers have a choice whether to choose a service-line protection program. For those who have a plan, an overwhelming majority of the customers surveyed after having a repair performed were pleased with the service they receive from local contractors. That’s important to us.
Louisville Water has an obligation to this community to provide a reliable and safe supply of water and to conduct our business in a fiscally responsible manner. The HomeServe partnership has allowed us to offer customers a voluntary protection plan for home plumbing, establish a Customer Assistance Program and create additional revenue that benefits all Louisville Water customers. These results are worth writing about.
Spencer Bruce is President and CEO of Louisville Water Company. Creighton Mershon is the chair of Board of Water Works.