Midsize and large U.S. electric utilities are working hard to achieve residential customer satisfaction – and seeing some results – according to findings of the 2016 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study, released July 13 by J.D. Power, a market researcher based in Westlake Village, California.
Indeed, the poll generated some very good news: Customer-reported monthly electric bills are the lowest in 10 years – averaging $129 in 2016, down from $132 in 2015. Overall, ratepayer satisfaction with pricing has improved the most of any category this year, up over 2015 by 16 points
Aside from the costs, the study measured customer attitudes on power quality and reliability; billing and payment; corporate citizenship; communications; and customer service.
Another area of improvement has been grid reliability. The average frequency of brief power interruptions (outages of five minutes or less) reported by ratepayers has continued to decline since 2010. This year, fully 41 percent of customers said they had experienced “perfect power,” or no brief or long interruptions, up from 37 percent in 2010.
What’s more, while lengthy interruptions have remained fairly constant, the duration of the longest outage has fallen to an average of 6.4 hours in 2016 from 7.0 hours in 2015.
In addition, the study established that utilities are improving in terms of informing customers about scheduled utility work, with 73 percent of customers indicating they were notified ahead of time, up from 71 percent in 2015. However, only 40 percent of customers say they were informed about an outage this year, down from 42 percent in 2015.
Overall, the researchers said they found that satisfaction was highest among customers in Georgia, Alabama and Oregon; and lowest in West Virginia, Connecticut and New Hampshire.
The 2016 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study was based on responses from 101,138 online interviews conducted July 2015 through May 2016 among residential customers of 137 midsize an large electric utility brands nationwide, which collectively represent more than 97.7 million households.
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