Satisfaction of business customers with electric utilities continues to climb: J.D. Power and Associates

Westlake Village, CA, Feb. 21, 2008 — Continuing a steady upward trend since 2004, business customer satisfaction with electric utility providers has reached record high levels, according to the recently released J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study. The study’s nationwide customer satisfaction index has increased from 690 points on a 1,000-point scale in 2007 to 697 in 2008.

The study is based on interviews with representatives of more than 13,500 U.S. businesses that spend between $500 and $50,000 monthly on electricity. Overall customer satisfaction is measured through six factors: power quality and reliability; customer service; company image; billing and payment; price; and communications. Businesses served by the 58 largest electric utilities in the United States report improvements in four of the six factors in 2008, with customer service and billing and payment factors registering the largest increases. Ratings for power quality and reliability and communications factors have also increased, while company image and price ratings have remained flat.

“Across the industry, utilities have made substantial gains in customer service and billing,” said Alan Destribats, vice president of the energy utility practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “For example, providing a wide variety of payment options, giving customers electronic copies of billing statements and making customer service available 24 hours a day through utility Web sites are all particularly satisfying to business customers.”

East Region

PPL Electric Utilities is the highest-ranking electric utility in the East Region with an overall customer satisfaction index score of 710. PPL has ranked highest in the region for seven of the past nine years. Other strong performers are Public Service Electric and Gas, FirstEnergy-East, Allegheny Power and Con Edison.

Midwest Region

For a second consecutive year, E.ON U.S. and MidAmerican Energy rank highest in a tie in the Midwest Region, each with an overall score of 728. Other utilities in the region with strong performances include Aquila, Consumers Energy and Xcel Energy-Midwest.

South Region

CPS Energy improves by 40 points and ranks highest with a score of 748. 2008 marks the first time that CPS Energy has ranked highest in the region. Other utilities with strong performances in the South Region include South Carolina Electric & Gas, Southern Company, Progress Energy and Tampa Electric.

West Region

Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) ranks highest in the West Region for a second consecutive year, achieving a score of 777. Other utilities performing particularly well in the region include L.A. Department of Water and Power, Salt River Project, Pacific Gas and Electric and Portland General Electric.

“Sacramento Municipal Utility District not only ranks highest in the West Region, but also earns the highest score of all the utility companies in the 2008 study, improving by 15 points since 2007,” said Destribats. “In addition, SMUD leads the study in several key performance areas, with business customers reporting particularly high rates of outage call-backs, receipt of electronic billing statements, contact with members of the utility’s senior management and awareness of SMUD’s energy conservation and efficiency programs.”

The study results include the following key findings:

* Business customers report experiencing slightly fewer outages in the 2008 study (5.7, on average) compared with the 2007 study (5.8). The average length of power outages decreased from 8.8 hours in the 2007 study to 7.9 hours in the 2008 study.

* The percentage of businesses that report visiting their utility’s website in the past 12 months has increased from 37 percent in the 2007 study to 52 percent in the 2008 study. In addition, the number of businesses that typically pay their bill online has increased from 12 percent to 14 percent within the past year.

* Approximately 37 percent of business customers report being aware of their utility’s energy conservation and efficiency programs. Customer awareness of a utility’s community outreach or conservation activities raised overall satisfaction by as much as 108 index points in the 2008 study.


Customer satisfaction index scores

(Based on a 1,000-point scale)

East Region

PPL Electric Utilities 710
Public Service Electric and Gas 706
FirstEnergy — East 705
Allegheny Power 702
Con Edison 701
Energy East 699
Pepco Holdings 693
NSTAR Electric 691
East Region Average691
Exelon — PECO 682
National Grid 682
Duquesne Light 680
Northeast Utilities672
Baltimore Gas and Electric665
Long Island Power Authority 621

Midwest Region

E.ON U.S. 728
MidAmerican Energy 728
Aquila 719
Consumers Energy 712
Xcel Energy — Midwest 711
Alliant Energy 710
Kansas City Power & Light 704
We Energies 703
AEP — Midwest 692
Duke Energy — Midwest 690
FirstEnergy — Midwest 689
Midwest Region Average 686
Detroit Edison 675
Exelon-ComEd671
NiSource 666
Westar Energy 641
Ameren 612

South Region

CPS Energy 748
South Carolina Electric & Gas 742
Southern Company 728
Progress Energy 727
Tampa Electric 723
Duke Energy — South721
South Region Average 705
Oklahoma Gas and Electric 698
AEP-South 695
Florida Power & Light 694
Dominion Virginia Power 681
Reliant Energy 678
Entergy 673
TXU Energy 670

West Region

Sacramento Municipal Utility District 777
L.A. Dept. of Water and Power 724
Salt River Project 722
Pacific Gas and Electric 721
Portland General Electric 717
West Region Average703
Southern California Edison701
Arizona Public Service 700
PNM Resources 695
Puget Sound Energy 682
PacifiCorp 681
Sierra Pacific Resources 679
Xcel Energy — West 672
San Diego Gas & Electric 662

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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