News10NBC Investigates: Vendor installing Smart Meters is understaffed and frustrating RG&E customers

Smart Meters

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The smart meter switchover across our region has been rocky for some customers. The vendor hired by RG&E/NYSEG to install the meters is understaffed and many customers say they can’t get through on the phone to schedule appointments or they keep getting stood-up. 

The Bopps live in West Henrietta and recently noticed a contractor going house-to-house installing new smart meters. Their service is outside so, they expected a quick outage and then a new meter. “I go and get our mail and there’s a door hanger in the mailbox,” recalls Mike Bopp. “It said they were not able to upgrade our electric meter because the electric service requires repair first…nothing else on the door hanger, I mean I was home, they could have knocked on the door to explain.”

So, Bopp tried calling Grid One Solutions, the company contracted by RG&E to install smart meters. “I called the number on the door hanger, it went to voicemail and then the voicemail said that it was full,” he recalls. So, he called back again the next day. “I left a voicemail this time and never got a call back from them.”

When he couldn’t get through to Grid One, he called RG&E. He says a customer service representative picked up quickly but couldn’t help, “They said they had no notes as to why they couldn’t complete the work,” Bopp tells News10NBC.

Bopp isn’t the only one with complaints about the smart meter switch over. Mary Heinrich from Rochester tells News10NBC she has scheduled four different appointments with Grid One to have her meter switched out and all four times, no one has showed up to do the work. 

Bernie Joswick, also of Rochester, got eight bills in the three weeks after his new meter was installed. He’s now waiting for RG&E to make sure the work was done correctly. 

News10NBC reached out to Grid One Solutions on Tuesday. The toll free number for the company took us to an automated system where we couldn’t reach a live person nor the option to leave a voicemail.  News10NBC Investigative Reporter tried emailing the company but did not receive a response. 

The President and CEO of RG&E/NYSEG addressed some issues with Grid One during a recent interview with News10NBC.

Jennifer Lewke – “Are you happy with the contractor so far?”

Trish Nilson – “Our contractor is working to staff up. They had the same pandemic impacts that we saw across all the industries.  Is it going to be perfect? It may not be always perfect but again, that’s the feedback we need if a customer did not have a perfect experience. We will share that with our vendor, we are talking to the vendor every single day to make sure that we’re on top of their operation and that they’re in sync with us.”  

Jennifer Lewke – “Have you been fielding calls for customers with issues?”

Trish Nilsen – “We’re doing about 8,000-10,000 meters a week It’s not perfect because of that staffing challenge, so again, if people are looking for a job opportunity, we’ve got them in our Grid One partner, they have an application that’s out there and we encourage people to apply as well.”

RG&E agreed to look into the accounts of the customers who reached out to News10NBC.  Bopp is thankful but says, “I think RG&E should have vetted their contractor a little better to see if they’re equipped to handle it.”

In total, more than 110,000 meters have been switched over so far in the region. RG&E/NYSEG says it will not begin charging the opt-out fee until its work is done in an entire community.