Rebuilding the reputation of New England’s largest utility system
New England’s largest utility system, Eversource Energy (formerly Northeast Utilities), faced intense criticism over its handling of back to back weather events. Mere weeks after Tropical Storm Irene ravaged the coastline, a rare October snowstorm left people without power for over a week. The snowstorm hit just two days before municipal elections, exacerbating an already difficult situation for the company and its electric distribution company, CT Light & Power (CL&P). Relationships with policy makers, customers and the media were strained. Various independent inquiries and reports were commissioned, prolonging the public conversation over many months. Among the many findings were charges of inefficient communication with key stakeholder groups.
GSG helped Eversource regain credibility amongst its target audiences. We quickly rolled out messaging to inform customers and educate regulators and policymakers about the realities of the system and its infrastructure as well as to communicate plans for improvement. We also restructured the company’s storm communications process, provided media training for key executives, and reached out to key reporters to manage expectations around future storm preparation.
As a result, media coverage refocused on the unprecedented nature of the weather events, as well as the fact that the company met industry standards in many key areas. As a result, the company received recognition for its efforts to improve communications, press relationships were repaired, and overall company favorability improved.