Salt River Project, OPPD repeat in J.D. Power business satisfaction ranking

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Electric utilities must be doing a better job with communications, product pricing and community participation because business customers are taking notice.

The J.D. Power 2016 Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study, released Wednesday morning, found that providers were ranked much higher than last year. The overall average score, on 1,000-point scale, was 704, compared with 677 in 2015.

The average is the highest in eight years. The biggest jumps in satisfaction focused on communications (up 55 points), corporate citizenship (+45) and price (+43).

Consolidated Edison, Met-Ed, Ameren Missouri, Omaha Public Power District, Entergy Arkansas, Jacksonville (Fla.) Electric Authority, Salt River Project and Sacramento Municipal Utility District headed up their respective regions.

“Communication and corporate citizenship are important to businesses,” said John Hazen, director of the energy practice at J.D. Power.  “Providers are doing a better job of proactively communicating with their business customers not only during an outage, but also on a regular basis to keep them informed of things such as energy programs offered, and to gather customer feedback.”

The study is now in its 17th year measuring business customer satisfaction with utilities. The study covered 102 U.S. providers, each of which serves more than 25,000 business customers and altogether supplies electricity to more than 12 million customers.

The utilities were divided into four geographic regions and classified into one of two segments. Large utilities served 85,000 or more business customers, while midsize served at least 25,000 customers.

Jacksonville Electric and SMUD topped their respective midsize south and west segments and the overall scoring with 754 points. Salt River Project, based in Arizona, led the large west for the third straight year and sixth time in seven years.

SRP and OPPD were the only two repeat winners in their segments. It was an extremely competitive year for high satisfaction scores, according to J.D. Power.

“There are 53 ranked providers with an overall satisfaction score above 700 this year,” said Hazen, who noted that in 2014 only four providers achieved scores of 700 or higher. “This clearly demonstrates that when providers make an investment in customer satisfaction and put in the effort, they can improve their customers’ experiences.”

Electric Light & Power magazine’s 2015 Utility of the Year, Public Service Electric & Gas, was third in the large east segment at 702 points, close behind Consolidated Edison and second-place PPL Electric Utilities.

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