Households remain loyal to energy suppliers

North Salem, NY

Despite the events of September 11 and ongoing concerns about air safety, the economy and domestic security, a major new survey indicated that Americans are regaining their positive outlook and resuming their normal living and spending patterns.

The in-depth telephone survey of 830 U.S. households, completed between October 11 and 25, found that while one in four consumers are more cautious about how they spend money, two-thirds of those sampled said they have not changed their spending behavior.

Long term, a quarter of those surveyed-27 percent-expected their personal financial situation to improve in 12 months. Close to two thirds of the consumers in the sample-62 percent-believed their personal financial situation to remain unchanged. Only eight percent foresaw a decline in their personal finances.

Underscoring their positive outlook, half of those surveyed said that recent events have not changed their normal household routines and activities. Indeed, close to a third believed things would change for the better over the next year.

These findings are part of the early results of the 2001 national residential customer survey conducted by RKS Research and Consulting, a 28-year old market research and public opinion polling firm based in North Salem, NY. RKS conducted this survey for a group of energy utility sponsors, and included additional questions this year to probe the national mood and outlook.

“These responses attest to the resiliency of the American people,” said David J. Reichman, RKS president. “Despite the daily flow of news about battles overseas and threats at home, American consumers remain upbeat and determined to stick to their accustomed patterns of spending, living and working. The implications for the national economy-barring any further disruptions-are most positive.”

Among energy issues regularly tracked by RKS surveys, Americans are very satisfied with their present utility-but the high national scores masked dramatic regional differences. For example, residential customers in the West were far more critical of their utilities’ performance on various customer satisfaction dimensions than other parts of the country; and California customers appeared to account for the negativity. Customer assessments of utility performance showed improvement in the Northeast and South, with little change in the Midwest, according to the RKS data.

Amid heightened concerns about the nation’s infrastructure, customers gave their utilities high marks for safeguarding power facilities. For instance, four in 10 consumers rated their energy supplier favorably for protecting power plants and control facilities, and 18 percent registered the highest possible scores on this measure. One quarter of those surveyed had no opinion on this issue.

RKS Research & Consulting designs and conducts both syndicated and customized market research and public opinion polling service for energy and natural resource clients and their major associations. More information is available at www.rksresearch.com.

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