Jeffrey A. Harrison at Citizens Reservoir
 

We're All Citizens - Here For You

Dear Citizens Customer:

Perhaps at no time in Citizens Energy Group’s long history have our employees been more challenged to serve the people of Central Indiana. Faced with the barriers of a historic pandemic, Citizens employees are displaying the same dedication to service and spirit of innovation displayed by past generations of employees who endured many national emergencies including the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, two World Wars, and the Great Depression. 
 

While our community and nation are still struggling to cope with the full scope of the human and economic turmoil caused by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and resulting public health emergency, our customers and communities know they can count on Citizens employees each day to deliver vital utility services they need to make their lives better during this very challenging time. 

Consistently overcoming every obstacle presented by the pandemic, Citizens employees are working safely together each day to achieve our mission focused on providing excellent customer service, enhancing quality of life and supporting economic development across Central Indiana. 

Customer Focused

With thousands of customers facing economic stress due to the pandemic, Citizens is doing everything we can to ensure their vital utility services remain connected. In March, as the pandemic began to significantly impact Central Indiana, Citizens suspended all utility disconnections and reconnected thousands of customers who had recently lost water service due to nonpayment. 

Since then, we have been establishing flexible payment arrangements up to 12 months with thousands of customers to allow them to catch up on past due bills and keep their utilities connected. We also are providing financial assistance through various Citizens programs and working to maximize use of other assistance sources. As we help customers in need, we remain focused on enhancing service to all customers through process improvements ranging from implementation of a new customer information system, to website enhancements, to better routing of calls to our contact center. 

Operational Excellence

Working in all kinds of weather, our field operations employees are following enhanced safety procedures, including wearing additional personal protective equipment, as they operate our utilities safely and efficiently. Our commitment to operational excellence is ensuring reliable service, high-quality drinking water, a cleaner environment and greater efficiency to hold down operating costs. Through our internal quality program and utility industry peer review programs, our operations team is always striving for continuous improvement that leads to enhanced safety and better service. 
 

Mike Miller, Manager, Engineering, and John Morgan, Construction Specialist VI, are keeping the DigIndy Project on schedule and below budget.
 


 
Thanks to the dedicated employees and ongoing investments, Citizens' natural gas system is one of the safest in the nation.


 
Citizens' employees gather in January 2020 to the Sharing the Dream event that resulted in improvements to Frederick Douglass Park.

Building for the Future

We also continue to make significant investments in all our utility systems to maintain system reliability, improve our environment and enhance customer service. 

TheDigIndy Tunnel System, the largest project in Citizens’ history, continues to be ahead of its scheduled completion by 2025 and more than $400 million below budget, as we meet the demands of a federal consent decree to capture over 99 percent of sewer overflows to area rivers and streams. 

Improvements to our water system include enhancements to our treatment plants, replacement of aging water mains and the completion of the new Citizens Reservoir in Spring 2021, the first new reservoir in Central Indiana in nearly 60 years. 

Ongoing investments and dedicated employees are ensuring our natural gas and thermal energy systems remain among the safest and best maintained urban energy systems in the nation. 

Diversity and Inclusion Drive Our Culture

As our community and nation strive for racial justice, at Citizens we are reaffirming our commitment to diversity and inclusion, joining with other leading organizations through the Indy Equity Pledge and Business Equity Committee. We are embracing our core value of diversity that guides us to treat all employees, customers, and members of the community with respect, and create a culture in which we value the contributions of every individual in an inclusive environment. We believe our success depends on valuing diversity in our work force, business partners and communities. We firmly believe that our continued focus on diversity and inclusion makes Citizens a better company for serving the people of Central Indiana. 

Here for You
Whether they are achieving operational excellence, executing important system improvement projects, or volunteering for a non-profit organization in their community, our employees continually demonstrate that We’re All Citizens – Here for You.

 

 
 

 

Here to Serve Our Customers

 

Since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic to the current preparations for winter, our Customer Operations employees have been acting with an unwavering commitment to serving the needs of our customers. 

“From our contact center employees to our shared field services technicians, our Customer Operations employees have always remained focused on exceptional customer service, despite potential distractions brought on by the pandemic,” said Mike Strohl, Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer. 

Five years ago, Citizens launched its Voice of the Customer initiative, using customer input, to implement employees’ ideas for enhancing customer service. Among the enhancements were self-service improvements to our website, improved call routing and training in our contact center, additional communications channels for our customers, and creation of the Customer Champion Award program to recognize employees for service to internal and external customers. 

“As the community emerges from the pandemic Citizens remains committed to providing customers with choices for additional service offerings that allow them to transact business with Citizens and receive information from us on their terms rather than ours,” explained Strohl. “Improving self-service functionality and digital communications through our website continues to be a key to providing customers choices designed to meet their needs. This service flexibility has become increasingly important as customers cope with changes to their lives caused by the pandemic.” 

Citizens also is very focused on improving the affordability of our services through ongoing cost control and maximizing financial assistance for customers through programs such as Citizens’ Warm Heart Warm Home Foundation™, Universal Service Program and Low-Income Customer Assistance Program. Maximizing use of these programs, and others such as the Indiana Energy Assistance Program, will be critical to helping our customers recover from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. 

“Each day our employees have a sense of urgency to own the customer experience. This has been especially evident throughout this very difficult year for our community,” said Strohl.

Customer Service Support Specialist Jose Cabrerra assists a customer.
 



 
 

 

Achieving Operational Excellence

 

While each of Citizens’ four utilities have unique challenges, there is always a unified commitment to operational excellence across our utility systems. 

Our Water Operations team recently concluded a rigorous peer review process through the Partnership for Safe Water, an alliance of six drinking water organizations, including the American Water Works Association. Upon completing the two-year review process, Citizens received Directors Awards for operational excellence in our water distribution system and our four surface water treatment plants. Based on a detailed self-assessment of plant and systems operations and water quality data, the Directors Award establishes utilities as high-performing providers of safe drinking water.  

Meanwhile, Citizens recently received recognition from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) through its Peak Performance Awards Program.  Both the Belmont and Southport Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plants have maintained Platinum status for several years. Platinum is the highest-level honor in the awards program, recognizing wastewater and stormwater facilities which have been 100 percent compliant with permits over a minimum of five consecutive years. 

“The recognition of our water and wastewater teams by these respected peer review programs is another indication of the great teamwork and professionalism across our systems from our distribution and collection systems to our treatment plants,” said Jeff Willman, Vice President, Water Operations. 

Citizens’ natural gas and thermal energy systems have long been among the nation’s safest and best maintained urban utility systems according to industry benchmarks. “The safety and reliability of Citizens’ energy infrastructure is the direct result of the daily dedication of our employees and long-term investments in our utility systems,” said J.P. Ghio, Vice President, Energy Operations. 

Like Water Operations, our Energy Operations team is making it a priority to improve processes that enhance efficiency and reduce costs. For example, our Gas Supply Department developed and implemented real-time dispatching of natural gas based on lower-cost market price acquisitions. Because of this new process, and other measures, our average residential natural gas bill is now among the lowest in the state according to a monthly survey by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. 

Our Energy team also has implemented new procedures and monitoring efforts that are reducing third-party damage to our facilities and enhancing our ability to recover costs associated with each damage.   

Providing cost-effective service with nearly 100 percent reliability has allowed our thermal utility to recently renew contracts for chilled water service with the IU Health and IUPUI campuses. “Our steam and chilled water systems continue to provide great value to commercial, industrial and institutional customers in the growing downtown area that allows them to focus on their missions rather than energy production,” said Ghio. 

Wastewater Collection Technicians Patrick Guynn and Bo Banks vacuum debris from a manhole.
 

 
Jeff Wilhelm, Jeffrey Harrison, and Bruce Cooley inspect the drop shaft that will carry water from Geist Reservoir into Citizens Reservoir, a converted stone quarry.
 

 
Dedicated employees ensure Citizens' thermal energy system achieves nearly 100 percent reliability.

Building for the Future

 

In a year when so much of the U.S. economy has been disrupted by the pandemic, Citizens is keeping important system investment projects on schedule and below budget. 

Citizens is nearing completion of the conversion of a stone quarry in Hamilton County into the first new reservoir in Central Indiana in nearly 60 years. Citizens Reservoir, which is located adjacent to our Geist Reservoir, will store more than 3 billion gallons of water for use during periods of dry weather and for future growth and development. 

Recent studies by Citizens Energy Group and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce indicate Central Indiana will need another 50-80 million gallons per day of water supply to meet the area’s needs over the next 25 years. The new reservoir will provide up to 30 million gallons per day of water supply to serve growing demand across Citizens’ eight-county service area. 

“Citizens Reservoir is a cost-effective and sustainable solution to providing Central Indiana the water supply that will be necessary for population growth and economic development. The new reservoir also will be a key component of meeting water demand during serious drought conditions like those that led to mandatory water-use restrictions during the drought in 2012,” said Jeff Willman, Vice President, Water Operations. 

In the coming months, mining will begin on the Pleasant Run Tunnel, the last segment of the 28-mile DigIndy System, a deep tunnel network that will capture up to 99 percent of sewer overflows to area rivers and streams by the year 2025. Over the past 3 years, the first 10 miles of the system has already prevented more than 2 billion gallons of sewage from overflowing into the White River and Eagle Creek. As more tunnel segments are completed and put in service over the next three years, additional water quality improvements will occur along our community waterways: White River, Fall Creek, Pogue’s Run and Pleasant Run. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Indiana Department of Environmental Management, which are overseeing DigIndy in accordance with a federal consent decree, recently approved a Use Attainability Analysis (UAA) for our long-term sewer overflow control plan. “The UAA approval, which is the first combined sewer overflow UAA provided to a utility in the U.S., represents an endorsement of our sewer overflow solutions for cleaner waterways, while providing greater regulatory and cost certainty for our customers,” said Mark Jacob, Vice President Capital Programs & Engineering. 

Citizens also continues to invest in replacement of natural gas mains and services to maintain its commitment to the safety and reliability of its system. More than $650 million of system investments since 1984 have resulted in the Citizens’ natural gas system now being comprised of more than 99 percent modern plastic or protected steel pipe. Unlike many urban gas utilities that include large portions of aging cast iron pipe, Citizens’ more than 4,000-mile-long system has only 7.5 miles of cast iron remaining, with this pipe scheduled for replacement over the next few years. 

Similarly, Citizens continues investing in its steam and chilled water distribution and production assets with a focus on system safety and reliability for its customers across the downtown area. 

 

 
 



 



Inspired to Lead



(Left to Right) Jennett Hill, Senior Vice President & General Counsel; Chris Braun, Vice President, Energy Operations (now retired); John Brehm, Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer; LaTona Prentice, Vice President, Regulatory & External Affairs; Jeff Willman, Vice President, Water Operations; Jeffrey Harrison, President & Chief Executive Officer; Curtis Popp, Vice President, Customer Operations; Sabine Karner, Vice President, Controller; Michael Strohl, Senior Vice President, Chief Customer Officer; Jodi Whitney, Vice President, Human Resources & Chief Diversity Officer; John Lucas, Vice President, Information Technology; Mark Jacob, Vice President, Capital Programs & Engineering/Quality Systems. Not shown: J.P. Ghio, Vice President, Energy Operations.
 


 

(Left to Right) John Krauss, Retired Director, Indiana University Public Policy Institute; Jackie Nytes, Chief Executive Officer, Indianapolis Public Library; Brian Williams, Program Director, Lilly Endowment; Daniel Evans, Retired President and CEO, Indiana University Health Partners, Inc.; Dennis Bland, President, Center for Leadership Development.
 

 

(Left to Right) Joseph Whitsett, Member at The Whitsett Group, LLC; Maria Quintana, President, Q2u Strategic Advisory Group; Phillip Terry, CEO, Monarch Beverage; Moira Carlstedt, President, Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership; Jeffrey Good, Managing Director for mAccounting; Anne Nobles, Retired Senior Vice President of Enterprise Risk Management and Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, Eli Lilly and Co.; Daniel Appel, President, Gregory & Appel Insurance; Christia Hicks, Vice President of Human Resources, Eskenazi Health Services; and J.A. Lacy, President & CEO, LDI, Ltd.