Can NICOR Really Turn Off Your Gas In Subzero Temperatures When There's NO Billing Issue?
Yes, they can.
This morning I received a distressing call at 8:00 a.m. from the family that rents my home in Oak Park, Illinois. No heat. No hot water. So my first call was to the plumber for the hot water heater, followed by the HVAC company for the boiler. But then I learned that the outage had nothing to do with equipment malfunction.
NICOR, without any notice to my tenants or I, TURNED OFF THE GAS TO MY HOUSE! Why? Because they think it's a brilliant plan to change out meters in January. (I see you scratching your head/rolling your eyes/making that WTF look on your face!)
Turns out, they completed HALF their job. They moved the meter outside, but it was too cold for the workers to finish what they were doing.
So it's currently 9 degrees outside on a January day. Too cold for a NICOR worker, but not too cold for the people in the house. Not too cold for them to take cold showers. Not too cold for them to go without heat. Not too cold for my pipes to freeze and burst. Just too cold for a NICOR worker.
What else is wrong with this scenario? That it's taken four hours of phone time between my renter, Martha, and I on the line with NICOR.
Originally, NICOR reps could not figure out why there was no gas service to my house. So they made up a story about a gas leak and workers in my neighborhood needing to shut off gas for a four-block radius. I called Oak Park Police and Fire to alert them to this emergency, because there are elderly neighbors directly next door who could freeze to death.
Oak Park Police and Fire had no notice from NICOR and no idea that gas was being shut off in the community.
Thanks to Oak Park Police who came straight to my house. The beat officer determined that the gas line was locked by NICOR.
So armed with that information, I called NICOR back. And, suddenly, they found the incomplete work order. Seems their crew moved my meter and was to reconnect the gas, but it was just too cold for them. Poor babies. I feel for ya, guys. But isn't that your job?
Now we're left to wait. Because NICOR still doesn't t know when a crew can come back.
So in subzero temperatures, NICOR can:
- Shut off your gas (even though the account IS NOT delinquent)
- Not provide notice
- Not provide a return crew
- And make up stories about fictitious gas outages in the area
So big shout-out to Melvin Williams, NICOR's third president for NICOR (Atlanta-based AGL Resources) in four years.
Melvin's background? He's a Savannah, Georgia native whose first time it is running one of AGL's utilities—and AGL's largest utility, at that. Before coming to the Chiagoland area, he oversaw field operations in the Florida municipalities of Port St. Lucie, Brevard and Hialeah, as well as the Atlanta Gas Light territory outside of metro Atlanta.
Welcome aboard, Melvin Williams. I'm sure your southern U.S. experience qualifies you to work in the frigid Midwest winters. And I have to say, Melvin, loving your plan to keep the status quo at NICOR, a utility that has long been known for ridiculously poor customer service.
I know I sound bitter, especially since I forgot to thank you for my new gas meter. But it's hard to show gratitude when your crew doesn't connect the meter and leaves me without gas service in subzero temperatures, Melvin!
Indeed, there will be Chaos In The Courtroom if my pipes freeze and damage results to my home. While I have been assured that my homeowner's policy and umbrella will cover me, to be sure, there will be a subrogation claim against NICOR for negligence.