Electric Utility Customer Satisfaction on the Rise
Despite the tense situation in the power industry and the
numerous power alerts so far this summer, a new study by J.D. Power
and Associates and Navigant Consulting found that electric utility
customer satisfaction actually has improved this year and the
average length of the longest power outage declined. Nationwide
about 65% of residential customers reported that they are extremely
or very satisfied with their electric utility provider.
The four regional leaders in customer satisfaction were Potomac
Electric Power in the East; LG&E Energy, parent of Louisville
Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities in the Midwest; Memphis
Gas, Light and Water in the South and the Salt River Project in the
West. Salt River Project, which serves the Phoenix area, posted the
highest customer satisfaction ranking in the nation with a score of
118. It ranked high in all categories but distinguished itself in
customer service, power reliability/quality and billing/payment.
One of the main conclusions of the 2000 Electric Utility
Residential Customer Satisfaction Study, which was based on
responses from 24,000 residential customers, was that the largest
75 electric utilities in four regions of the U.S. are doing a
better job this year of quickly restoring power when outages affect
residential customers. The average length of the longest power
outage was reduced to five hours from 17 last year.
"Although customers report more power outages, the average
duration is considerably shorter this year," said Jim Gaz, director
of energy services at J.D. Power and Associates. "More importantly,
customers feel they are much better informed about outages. Taken
together with improved ratings on customer service representatives
and faster caller answering times, it's not surprising that so many
utilities were able to improve satisfaction levels."
The study also found that customer needs are changing and
reliability, power quality and billing/payment are issues that have
grown in importance for customers.
"Company image and price/value are still dominant factors for
the electric industry, but power quality and reliability,
billing/payment and customer service have more of an impact with
this year's respondents, collectively representing more than 82
million households," said Gaz.
Power prices nationwide remained flat at $88/month on average.
Delaware and South Carolina have the highest bills with customers
paying $112/month on average, whereas Minnesota and Utah have the
lowest monthly averages at about $60. Customers in Alabama reported
the most outages per year at eight, followed by Utah and West
Virginia with seven. Customers in Rhode Island reported the fewest
outages with three per year. And customers in Michigan reported the
longest outages, averaging nearly 13 hours.
If given a choice, 17% of the residential customers said they
would definitely or probably switch suppliers - with no significant
difference in price. However, 39% of the unhappy customers said
they would switch without a lower price offering. The study also
found that it might take a 15% cut in prices to encourage the
majority of customers to be very or somewhat likely to switch
Additional details about the study are available at
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