Customer awareness of corporate citizenship initiatives that demonstrate a natural gas utility's environmental stewardship, energy conservation and local community support can boost customer satisfaction, according to J.D. Power and Associates' 2009 Gas Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study.

"Gas utility customers want to be made aware of the corporate citizenship activities of their gas provider," said Alan Destribats, vice president of J.D. Power's energy practice. "Not only are customers more satisfied when they have an understanding of how their utility is giving back to the community, but also customers with favorable impressions of how their utility manages business costs and treats its employees have notably higher levels of satisfaction."

The study found that customer awareness of gas utility corporate citizenship initiatives can elevate overall satisfaction by 90 index points or more on a 1,000-point scale. The study also found that customers are notably more satisfied when their utility company has provided education on the benefits of natural gas as a cost-effective and environmentally friendly source of energy.

The study measured customer satisfaction with billing and payment, price, corporate citizenship, communications, customer service and field service. Utilities are ranked in four geographical regions.

In the East region New Jersey Natural Gas ranks highest, followed by Rochester Gas & Electric, UGI Utilities, Washington Gas and South Jersey Gas Co.

Metropolitan Utilities District of Omaha ranked highest in the Midwest region, followed by MidAmerican Energy, Alliant Energy, Louisville Gas & Electric and Citizens Gas.

CPS Energy, which ranked second in the South region last year, moved into the top spot for 2009, followed by PSNC Energy, Texas Gas Service, South Carolina Electric & Gas, Texas Gas Service and Alagasco.

Southern California Gas Co. ranked highest in the West region, followed by Northwest Natural, Colorado Springs Utilities and Pacific Gas and Electric.

The study, conducted between September 2008 and July 2009, is based on more than 54,000 responses from residential customers of the 75 largest gas utilities across the continental United States. The utilities serve more than 53 million households.

©Copyright 2009 Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in any form, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.