I-Team: After Consumers Struggle To Get Mass Save Rebates, Utilities Promise Improvements

WESTFORD (CBS) – At her century-old Westford home, Wendy Gloyd said it became obvious some energy upgrades were needed to make it more comfortable in the winter.

But prior to adding insulation, an electrician had to replace all the old knob and tube wiring in the house to remove the potential fire hazard. It was an expensive project for Gloyd and her husband, who also share the property with her elderly parents.

Luckily, an incentive offered through the Mass Save program would make the cost more manageable. Part of the statewide program provides cash rebates for qualifying energy improvements. It is funded by ratepayers through a surcharge on monthly energy bills and managed by utility companies.

After the electrical remediation work, Gloyd anticipated a rebate of more than $3,300.

Wendy Gloyd (WBZ-TV)

“It was something we’d budgeted and planned on,” she told the WBZ I-Team.

Contractors completed the energy improvements at Gloyd’s home in the summer of 2016. However, more than 17 months later, she still had not received her check.

“It was very frustrating,” she said. “It became a part-time job. I kept getting sent to different people and asked for different paperwork. But it was enough money that I didn’t want to let it go.”

Gloyd then saw a report about other Mass Save customers having similar problems. That is when she decided to contact the WBZ I-Team.

Within 48 hours, Mass Save sent her the rebate checks via overnight mail.

“I thought it was amazing!” Gloyd told the I-Team. “This was money that was promised a long time ago and we finally got it, thanks to assistance from your team.”

Wendy Gloyd (WBZ-TV)

Since first starting to follow the issue, the WBZ I-Team has helped 13 customers secure more than $37,000 in Mass Save rebates that were erroneously delayed or denied.

The WBZ investigation also caught the attention of Rep. Thomas Golden, who chairs the committee that oversees utility companies. The Lowell Democrat questioned representatives from National Grid and Eversource about the issues during a November hearing.

“They’ve been responsive in resolving issues I’ve brought to their attention, but it shouldn’t take a legislator’s intervention to move the needle,” Golden said. “Maybe it’s time for them to adopt the New England Patriots’ motto: ‘Do your job.’”

After initially denying any issues with the rebate program, utility companies now tell the I-Team they are making changes.

Eversource spokesman Mike Durand said a new “escalation process” is being implemented.

“That will require the vendor to notify us sooner when customer concerns or rebate issues arise,” Durand said.

Similarly, National Grid described ways the rebate application process is being modified to improve response time and overall customer experience.

“The team is also evaluating the reasons for stalled applications across all programs to ascertain where additional improvements can be implemented,” wrote Robert Kievra, a National Grid spokesman.

Changes like that are welcome news to people like Marian Colman. The Falmouth homeowner expected a $300 rebate when she installed a heat pump last summer.

After contacting the I-Team, Colman learned her check was mailed to the wrong address, a “human error” on the part of the rebate vendor. However, after it was returned to the sender, the check simply sat without any action.

“The whole situation was very confusing,” Colman said. “Thanks for getting involved and resolving the problem for me and the others out there who are getting nowhere with Mass Save rebates.”

Ryan Kath can be reached at rkath@cbs.com. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.

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